ABL clears air on wrongful application of tax stamps

Accra Brewery Limited (ABL) has said its decision to provide tax stamps to key distributors to affix on old stock, was borne out of good faith and in compliance with Ghana Revenue Authority guidelines.

A statement copied to the B&FT, read, “Our attention has been drawn to media reports regarding the Ghana Revenue Authority’s (GRA) enforcement action on some of its key distributors in relation to the tax stamp policy.

“ABL wishes to state that its decision to provide tax stamps to the company’s key distributors were borne out of a genuine intention to comply with the GRA’s directives to all manufacturers to ensure that their products were affixed with tax stamps before they could be sold on the market. As you may already be aware, the GRA on 2nd October 2018 commenced an enforcement exercise which led to the prevention of the sale of excisable products without tax stamps.”

The statement added that ABL, since October 2018, has ensured full compliance with the tax stamp policy and that all products leaving its brewery from the period of enforcement have been affixed with the appropriate tax stamps.

It said although it is aware that stocks left its premises prior to the 1st October, it did not know that those sitting with key distributors had to be affixed with tax stamps before they could be sold, adding: “As such and in good faith, ABL provided tax stamps to our Key Distributors across the country to manually affix the tax stamps onto these products.”

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“The company was not aware of the requirement to acquire different tax stamps to be affixed on old stock produced and delivered to key distributors prior to the implementation of the policy. The company offers a full apology for the unintended consequence the quest to comply with the stamp policy by providing the stamps to its key distributors may have caused,” it further read.

Despite the mix-up, the statement noted that the decision to apply the tax stamps on old stock has not led to the loss of excise tax revenue due GRA from ABL. And that ABL in line with the excise legislation of the country calculates and remits its taxes to the Ghana Revenue Authority on a monthly basis.

The statement signed by Adwoa Aaba Arthur, ABL’s Legal & Corporate Affairs Director, also said, “The excise taxes due on the products in the warehouse of our KDs have already been remitted to the GRA in line with the excise tax laws. We also would like to state that the GRA has resident excise officers on ABL’s premises who ensure the correct excise amount is declared and paid to the GRA on a monthly basis. As the GRA itself has indicated, the excise tax stamp policy does not create a new tax but rather serves as another level of compliance for excise taxes.

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“ABL is a compliant tax payer and a major contributor to the excise tax revenue of the government. We remain committed to our tax compliance culture and our continuous engagement with the GRA and the government in the quest to roll out the tax stamp policy and support all other tax policies of the State including the withholding VAT regime where ABL was chosen amongst a selected group of companies by the GRA to serve as agents for the government for the successful implementation of the withholding VAT scheme.”

Subsequent, to being made aware of the issue, ABL indicated that it had engaged the GRA to carry out the necessary reconciliations on all stamps issued to date and to ensure we work together to get our stock produced prior to the 1st October and sitting with our KDs to be affixed with the appropriate stamps.

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