Immediate past General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, Rev. Dr. Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong has lambasted critics who are calling for churches to pay taxes, asking them to shut up and desist making discriminatory remarks.
His response stems from comments from individuals and sections of the public suggesting that churches should be mandated to honor their tax obligations since they make monies from their services and activities.
“All those people talking church people must pay tax they are not helping anybody. They sound very discriminatory, they better shut up.”
With many calling for the churches to be taxed, Rev. Opuni revealed that churches pay tax with the exception of organizations registered as charity institutions. He explained that it is logical that churches engaged in profit-making businesses; schools, micro finance institutions and transportation pay their taxes but demands should not be made on those who operate solely as worship centers.
“The churches I have worked with the catholic bishop conference, Christian council, all the Presby, Methodist, Anglican, Baptist, salvation army, they pay even at source so if that is what you’re talking about I am telling you go into their books they even pay at source, now the next level is that all organizations that are registered as corporate law, charity, have certain exemptions.”
The cleric believes a clear debate must be stated where all institutions including political parties, muslims, shrines are all taxed if critics insist the churches should pay taxes.
“Not only churches, Muslims are there, all political parties are there. And so if they talk like that the issue you just raised and they are saying that all those who are under charity, NGO must pay tax they should stop talking about church, then they must say what they mean and that one NDC and NPP people must pay tax first,” he said.
This debate on whether or not to tax tithes and offerings or collections at churches has been ongoing for some time now without any clear direction. Dr. Opuni however appealed to the people to state plainly, their position on whether or not churches should pay taxes.
“When they talk like that I pray and hope they will come clean with their definitions detailed. The churches do pay tax so they must tell us exactly what they are looking for.”
The immediate past General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana didn’t fail to call out the law makers as according to him when the laws are made discriminatory problem appears.
“If you make any law discriminatory you will be in trouble why church, church, church. So let me say that those who are doing, church people should do this must go back to the drawing board, give themselves proper definition, the concept must be right. If you’re building x, y, z you pay tax, whether you’re a church, whether you’re a Muslim, whether you’re a shrine, whether you’re this you pay stop there! And then enforce it. If you’re selling oil, whether it’s Frytoil, whether it’s anointing, whether it’s for anything you pay tax stop there. Whether that Frytoil is sold in church or shrine you pay tax stop there.”