GRA taps data scientists to go after tax deviants… especially high-net-worth individuals 


The Ghana Revenue Authority has given clear indication that, in the coming days, it will be going after high-net-worth individual (HNWI) – persons with around US$1 million in liquid financial assets – whose asset base and affluence does not match the tax they pay.

As a result, the GRA has configured and synchronised its data with 14 other government institutions, including the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) and the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT). It has also employed data scientists to analyse the transactions of these HNWI and ensure that they are paying the right taxes to government.

Speaking at a media briefing on the projection of the GRA in 2021, the Commissioner General, Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah, said a lot of work has gone on already and the data scientists are already at work. For him, the move is not only geared at generating more revenue for government but also to engender tax compliance.

“We are looking at data analytics. We have recruited data scientists and data analytic officers. These data analytical officers will be receiving data from about 14 institutions. They will be analysing it and through the data analysis we will be able to identify people that are non-compliant taxpayers and make them complaint.

In other words, for example, if we do analytics and we find out that you are using a latest Mercedes Benz from the data we gather from DVLA and your tax is GH¢50, automatically the system will tell you there is something wrong here and we have to look further to see whatever it is, and before you realize it, we will come to you and say we don’t think you are paying the right taxes,” Mr. Owusu-Amoah said.

He added that there are situations where people will go to SSNIT and give 50 people as their employees, but go to the GRA and submit 20 people as their employees. “As soon as you send separate data to SSNIT and separate data to us, before you realize we are at your doorstep because we will be doing analytics on this.

There are a lot of such things we are going to do and we expect this will boost our revenues significantly and we will be counting on you the media to carry this message to the people. Together we can build a strong nation and raise enough revenue to build our roads and be able to provide, because we know that in the COVID era while there are challenges in the economy, expenditure is also increasing and we need the revenue.”

Meanwhile, final revenue data from the Ghana Revenue Authority has shown that the revised revenue target for 2020 – due to the effects of COVID-19 – of GH¢42.7 billion from the GH¢47.2 billion original target was exceeded at the end of the calendar year. The data showed that GH¢45.3 billion which represents a 6 percent increase of the revised target was achieved. The performance represents a nominal growth rate of 3.3 percent over the same period in 2019 which saw the collection of GH¢43.9 billion.

The data further showed that in 2020, domestic revenue grew by a nominal rate of 2.8 percent while Customs collection grew by 4.5 percent. For direct taxes, while the GRA targeted GH¢22.15 billion the actual collection stood at GH¢22.21 billion.

Indirect taxes had a target of GH¢9.7 billion but ended up collecting GH¢10.58 billion. Customs target saw the highest percentage increase; while it set GH¢10.92 billion for itself, it collected GH¢12.58 billion at the end of the year.

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