The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has warned strongly that it will intensify its prosecutorial powers on businesses and persons who default in the payment of taxes after the expiration of a tax amnesty period this year.
The tax amnesty period expires after September 30, 2018, and the GRA is expected to rake in not less than GH¢500million from the exercise. The authority has been charged by government to collect GH¢39billion as revenue for the 2018 operational year.
Speaking at an interaction with the media in Accra, to provide insight into the Tax Amnesty Act and solicit support to educate the public on the Act, Commissioner General of the GRA, Emmanuel Kofi Nti, said: “GRA has the capacity to identify all potential taxpayers.”
He said: “I wish to say that being outside the radar is not an option because GRA will vigorously pursue all tax defaulters, including prosecuting them after expiration of the amnesty period of September 30, 2018. GRA will apply all the sanctions under the law. We are going to intensify our prosecutorial powers. There is going to be prosecution on tax issues this year”.
Parliament, during its final meeting last year, passed the Tax Amnesty bill as part of plans to improve voluntary tax compliance.
The law is expected to grant amnesty by readjusting the penalty to be paid by persons who fail to register with the Commissioner-General or file tax returns, or pay their taxes as required by law.
To take advantage of the amnesty, which will expire after September 2018, a defaulting individual or company that was not previously registered with the GRA must first register and submit all tax returns for the years in which their taxes have been in default.
GRA’s drive to boost tax-revenue collection comes at a time government has outlined new measures to avert a fiscal explosion as expenditure continues to spiral ahead of revenues, threatening the attainment of key budgetary targets.
Mr. Nti said: “Taxpayers who are found to be non-compliant and have failed to take advantage of this opportunity should expect to suffer sanctions to the fullest extent under the law”.
He added: “As tax administrators, it goes without saying that taxpayers are our partners in national development. I am therefore calling on taxpayers to partner the GRA, so that together we can contribute to building this dear nation.
“I wish to say that as a compliance measure this is the last time GRA, and for that matter government, is offering a tax amnesty for defaulting businesses and persons.
“I call on all persons earning income who have defaulted in the submission of their tax returns and payments or who have not previously registered with GRA to take advantage of the amnesty, come clean and regularise their tax affairs.”
Mr. Nti explained that tax amnesty is aimed at facilitating regularisation of tax affairs for persons who have defaulted in meeting their tax obligations, updating the GRA data base, improving the tax compliance culture, and broadening the tax net.
He indicated that the tax amnesty is specifically designed to afford taxpayers already registered with the GRA an opportunity to voluntarily submit their outstanding tax returns and pay the relevant taxes on all previously undeclared taxes – without being made to pay the penalties and interest that otherwise will have been imposed for such default under provisions of the Revenue Administration Act, 2016 (Act 915) and other tax laws administered by GRA.
“I am appealing for all income-earners and businesses to consider whether they need to come forward under the amnesty; for tax consultants to encourage their clients to take it up, if appropriate; and to our friends in the media to raise awareness of the opportunity,” he said.
“No matter the efforts put in by the GRA, we cannot be successful without our taxpayers who willingly and voluntarily honour their tax obligations: That is why an amnesty is being offered this year.
“We want to increase the pool of willingly compliant taxpayers, and in doing so increase – this year and for the future – the revenue that will allow us to fulfil the development aspirations that we all have for Ghana,” he remarked.