Rev. Dr. Kwabena Opuni Frimpong, former General Secretary of the Christian Council, has advised the public to present reasons for taxing political party donations before attempting to tax church giving.
According to him, churches already pay taxes on their commercial activity, and their donations are voluntary contributions that are not taxable under the law.
In an interview with Accra-based Adom FM, Rev. Dr. Kwabena Opuni Frimpong stated that those who continue to claim that churches should pay taxes are unaware that churches do not engage in commercial operations.
He stated that if the government and the people want to tax voluntary contributions, they should begin with political parties, which get significant amounts from their followers and members.
“I am a Presbyterian pastor, at the end of the month, my employer deducts my taxes from the source. By this, before I get my salary, I see all the deductions by way of taxes. Churches with other forms of businesses such as conference centres, guest houses etc, they pay their taxes accurately.
“When people keep saying that churches should pay taxes, we must bear in mind that it is not as though churches engage in commercial activities but those that have some components of commercial businesses, pay their taxes. So, churches pay taxes already,” he said.
He continued: “But I believe that people keep making these arguments because of the offerings we take. Consider this, as a country we do not tax any voluntary contribution. Before you ask churches to pay taxes, any time NPP and NDC meet in their respective party meetings, they should pay taxes on their contributions.”
Rev. Dr. Opuni Frimpong went on to say that voluntary payments are not restricted to churches, but also to other groups and entities such as old student clubs and funeral contributions.
He argued that it is wrong to tax churches while excluding other voluntary donations.
“Currently, Ghana’s laws do not allow for voluntary contributions to be taxed and as a matter of fact, everybody is allowed to take these forms of contributions from people. So, why don’t people ask for contributions from the political parties, old student associations, and funeral contributions to be taxed. Yet they are telling churches to pay taxes,” he noted.
The former general secretary remarked that if the government and the people insist on taxing voluntary contributions, they should do so for all groups and organizations, not only churches.
According to him, the government and the general public should not discuss taxation with the church unless they have initiated the debate from that perspective.
“If that is the argument, then all forms of voluntary contributions must be taxed. If that argument is made, then we should remember that you are not only talking about the churches, rather, it covers all groups and bodies. If you’ve not started the conversation from that angle, do not engage the church about taxes,” he stated.