You like money, but at what costs? People like to say that the Ghana government doesn’t collect enough taxes. And that we are poor for it. Some point to the United States where people pay taxes on their homes. Why not do the same in Ghana – One might ask? This will create enough revenue for the State, the claim continues. Putting corruption aside for a moment, I still abhor that assertion, if an assertion it is.
I realize those who call for heavy taxation – a state/city/regional tax on everything have little idea of what it actually means. I offer Akosua M. Abeka‘s interesting answer on the question: Should our State tax our homes/lands. Her answer:
Recall that in recent times, the idea of taxing “Shelter/Land” in the united states, for instance, has a history, rooted in the US Government’s expropriation of Native American lands. Take the case of Johnson v. McIntosh (1823), property, white settlers and slavery & rights of slaves.
Let me provide a brief intro: Could white settlers purchase land from the Creek, the Cherokee, the Choctaw, the Chickasaw, and the Seminole in the early nineteenth century? The US Supreme Court said, “No!” “Native American lands, the court ruled, must be passed through the public domain of the United States before being converted into the private property of white inhabitants.”
In other words, and this is the key, the foundation of the law of property in the United States combines, at once, the imperial assertion of U.S. Government sovereignty and the identification of that project with continental racial governance. Unsettling won’t you say? Once white settlers bought land from the US Government, they had to automatically pay taxes, in some form, at the behest of the US Government for the record maintenance of that property. What some journalists referred to as “making good on the purchase.”
This wouldn’t have been the case, at least not in the same form, if settlers were allowed to purchase land from the Natives. “Making good on the purchase,” would have been left in the hands of the new owners. Civilized men would have respected such purchases anyway. Later, if Blacks were allowed to purchase lands directly from the Natives, they would own the lands without recourse to state protection as well. The idea of perpetual taxation then would be a preposterous idea about land and houses!
All that intro to say that the state cannot collect taxes on what it never owned or created, unless of course it has a good reason to promise you protection! But then the state can provide optional “Insurance.” Not taxes! Worse, taxes in perpetuity? Checking what the state can tax and what it cannot, and for how long, remains a fundamental tenet of checking government expansion, invigilation and dictatorship! I hope in Ghana we do not import dangerous and debilitating ideas, which we know little about like allowing the state to tax houses and native lands. It will be a disaster. We have to think from within – what makes sense and what does not! You like money, but at what costs? This should be the question.
Are Native Americans, even in the U.S., as few as they have been summarily executed to become, paying taxes on their homes? Are they paying taxes on their lands? If you didn’t already have that answer, it is no. Why should I pay taxes to a Ghana government that has only existed since 1957, when the ownership of my land predates this neocolonial outpost by three hundred or so years? This one too is a debate?