Prof. Mills launched a lifelong learning at Achimota Secondary School, where he completed the Advanced Level Certificate in 1963.
To further his education, he attended the University of Ghana, Legon where he received a Bachelor’s Degree and Professional Certificate in Law (1967).
While earning the PhD in Oriental and African Studies from the University of London at the age of 27, Dr. Mills was selected as a Fulbright Scholar at Stanford Law School (USA).
Prof. Mills’ first formal teaching assignment was as a Lecturer at the Faculty of Law at the University of Ghana, Legon. He spent more than twenty five years imparting acquired knowledge to students, and rose in position from Lecturer to Senior Lecturer to Associate Professor.
His contribution to the University was remarkable having served on numerous Boards, Committees, and Schemes. Also during those twenty five years, Prof. Mills travelled as a Visiting Lecturer and Professor to Temple University (USA) and Leiden University (Holland), and presented research papers at Symposiums and Conferences throughout the world.
Prof. Mills had more than one dozen publications to his credit. These include:
Taxation of Periodical or Deferred Payments arising from the Sale of Fixed Capital (1974)
Exemption of Dividends from Income Taxation: A critical Appraisal (1977)
Report of the Tax Review Commission, Ghana, Parts 1, 2 & 3, (1977) and
Ghana’s Income Tax laws and the Investor. An inter-faculty lecture published by the University of Ghana.
His expertise goes well beyond the classroom, and is evidenced by the various examiner positions he held with finance related institutions throughout Ghana (i.e. Institute of Chartered Accountants, Institute of Bankers, Ghana Tax Review Commission). As an advocate for recreation, active sportsman and sports fan, Prof. Mills has supported the community through groups such as the Ghana Hockey Association, National Sports Council of Ghana, and Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting Club. The following are a few of his activities and projects:
Member of the Ghana Stock Exchange Council
Board of Trustees, Mines Trust.
Management Committee of Commonwealth Administration of Tax Experts.
United Nations Ad Hoc Group of Experts in International Cooperation in Tax Matters 7 United Nations Law and Population Project.
Study on Equipment Leasing in Ghana.
Casebook preparation on Ghana’s Income Tax.
Review of Ghana’s Double Tax Agreement with the UK.
A track record of financial knowledge and strong professional credentials led to several important appointments. In 1988, Prof. J. E. Atta Mills became the Acting Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service of Ghana and named Commissioner in September 1996. In 1997, Prof. Mills became the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana and served in that capacity with former President J. J. Rawlings till 2000.
Prof. Mills was the third President of the Fourth Republic of Ghana. He was inaugurated on 7 January 2009, having defeated the ruling party candidate Nana Akufo-Addo in the 2008 election. He was Vice-President from 1997 to 2001 under President Jerry Rawlings, and stood unsuccessfully in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections as the candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).