A combined team of officials of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), from Accra and Kumasi, have embarked on an exercise to inspect and enforce the Excise Tax Stamp, as part of efforts to improve revenue collection.
The operation, which targeted some major retail outlets within the ‘Commercial Business District’ within the Kumasi Metropolis, led to the seizure of large quantities of assorted alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks from almost all the retail outlets inspected.
According to the GRA, management of the outlets have a grace period of 30 days to appeal to the Commissioner-General, to explain why those products should not be confiscated. The required taxes will then be demanded before releasing the products back to the owners if the Authority finds the explanations to be genuine.
However, failure to comply with this directive, the products which included some imported alcoholic drinks will remain in the custody of the Authority.
At almost all the retail outlets inspected during the exercise, it was identified that some of the tax stamps had been misapplied to the drinks on sale. While some foreign alcoholic beverages were affixed with tax stamps meant for domestic products, some of the domestic products had also been affixed with the wrong tax stamps.
In addition to this, some of the outlets were found in possession of tax stamps meant for the use of producers, of some of the products retailed. They explained that some of the producers and importers of the products hand them the tax stamps to affix on the products at the retail shops instead.
However, the GRA officials insisted that the use of the tax stamps meant for the producers or importers by the retailers was not permitted and therefore seized them.
The Authority also noted that the tax stamps are to be affixed on top of the drinks in a way that when the products are consumed the stamps could not be reused.
An aggrieved retailer complained of the lack of education on the use of the ‘Excise Tax Stamps’ on imported drinks as well as its application to the different sizes of domestically produced drinks.
She said the Authority should educate them on the tax stamps while also engaging them before moving around to seize.
The Principal Revenue Officer, Excise Unit of the GRA, in Accra, Mrs. Lydia Asare Anim, who led the exercise observed that the use of domestic tax stamps on imported drinks amounts to tax evasion, and therefore urged retailers to always check tax stamps.
She said the Authority embarked on massive public education as well as engaged all stakeholders before the introduction of the ‘Excise Tax Stamps.’ She added that the ‘Excise Tax Stamps’ is a compliance tool for producers and importers to pay the right taxes their products.
Mrs. Asare Anim noted that the Authority will periodically carry out such operations to ensure compliance while urging the public to also get the ‘Ghana Tax Stamp Authenticator’ application on their own to be able to also check the validity of the tax stamps affixed on some the products.
She also said, “It is the responsibility of the producers and importers of alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages to affix the ‘Excise Tax Stamps and not be left to retailers to do that.”
Some of the assorted drinkable beverages seized from some of the retailers during the exercise
An official of GRA sorting out ‘untaxed’ alcoholic drinks at one of the retail shops visited in Kumasi