The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has quelled fears expressed by some businesses that failure to get a Tax Identification Number (TIN) by end of March this year will deny them the opportunity to do so later.
The GRA Public Relations Officer, Bobie Ansah, told B&FT that registration for the TIN will not be closed at GRA offices after the deadline – only that those who do not have the TIN will no longer have access to some public services beginning April 1, 2018.
The directive requires all businesses and individuals to obtain a TIN before they are able to conduct official business in the country.
Beginning April 1, 2018, a person cannot open a bank account, file a case in court, acquire a passport or obtain a driving licence without the TIN.
Without it, a person cannot also register a vehicle, clear goods in commercial quantities from the ports or register any title to land or any document affecting land.
Other services for which the TIN is needed to access include: obtaining a certificate to commence business at the Registrar General’s Department or any District Assembly office; receiving any payment from the Controller and Accountant General or a District Assembly in respect of a contract for the supply of any goods or provisions of any services.
Checks by the B&FT revealed that a lot of business owners – particularly those in the informal sector – are not aware of this directive; and even some who are aware have still not gone for their TIN.
One of the business owners who spoke with the B&FT on condition of anonymity said: “I am not even aware that the GRA has said something like that. But now that you have told me, I will go and get it”.
One of the traders, who admitted she had heard it but not yet gone for it, asked if there is a possibility to get the TIN after the deadline.
The TIN is a unique identification number issued to taxpayers for official transactions, and the GRA has said it wants to use this strategy to widen the tax net for domestic revenue generation.
Government has consistently been urged to find innovative means of generating more domestic revenue to finance its activities.
The IMF, in February, urged government to legislate new measures to boost revenue by at least 0.5 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Low revenue mobilisation has been blamed for the fiscal imbalances experienced over the years.
According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS), Ghana’s domestic revenue to GDP ratio averaged 20.4 percent between 2012 and 2015, compared to sub-Saharan African countries’ average of 27.1 percent within the same period.
The Executive Director of IFS, Prof. Newman Kusi said if the country is able to reach the sub-Saharan average, there will be no issue of fiscal deficit.
“Indeed, if Ghana had performed like its regional comparators with an average domestic revenue/GDP ratio of 27.1 percent, the country could have generated a total of GH¢26.6billion extra domestic revenue between 2012 and 2015 — which could have paid off the total fiscal deficit of GH¢22.3billion for the period, with an extra GH¢4.3billion to pay off some of its debt.
“The country would not have recorded any fiscal deficit. Quite clearly, low domestic revenue mobilisation is the cause of Ghana’s fiscal imbalances and the rising public debt,” Prof. Kusi said at the pre-budget forum last year.