The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has devised a strategy to translate the increased Tax Identification Numbers (TIN) into revenue in the short term, the Commissioner-General Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah has told the B&FT.
According to him, the GRA is well aware that the growth in TIN which has been achieved as a result of deliberate government policies geared at expanding the tax net is not a guarantee that tax revenue will go up automatically.
He therefore added that there is a need for awareness creation and tax education before an action can be taken on the collection of taxes from these persons.
Data from the GRA has shown that as of 2019, registered taxpayers stood at 3 million from 1.5 million in the previous year. The number again increased to about 6 million at the end of 2020. The major initiative that quadrupled the figure since 2018 was the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) Business Support Scheme, managed by the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) now Ghana Enterprise Agency (GEA) which pushed Micro, Small, Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to register for TIN before accessing the funds.
According to the Commissioner General, as the TIN grows, the number of people who would be paying tax is expected to increase alongside, stating that the first step to increasing the tax revenue is to widen the tax net. He is optimistic that the growth in numbers would lead to significant growth in the number of people who pay tax.
“We are looking at a significant expansion but it will all not happen this year. We want to get the full data after the merger and we will start engaging the people and getting them to register. We are therefore planning a gradual growth in terms of the revenue over a period of time,” Mr. Owusu-Amoah told the paper after a visit to selected GRA offices within Accra to observe their preparedness for the use of the Ghana Card Number as TIN for individuals which took effect from April 1, 2021.
He further explained that there is a relationship between the number of the Ghana Cards that would become TIN and their eventual translation into revenue. But, he stressed that there is a lot of effort that is needed to ensure that the numbers are converted into revenues.
“The fact that you have registered somebody does not mean automatically the person is going to pay tax because you might have 50 million conversions and they are not paying tax so it is important for us to be able to identify them, identify the type of tax that they qualify for, engage them and to be able to get them to start filing and complying as well as being able to pay their taxes.”
2021 Revenue Target
Already, pressure is mounting on GRA to collect more revenue to support government operations. New and adjusted taxes have been announced in the 2021 budget as a measure to shore up government revenue. Government is planning to raise at least GH¢72.6 billion in revenues to execute its business this year.
Remarks on tour
The Commissioner-General expressed satisfaction after the visit to the selected GRA offices within Accra to observe their preparedness for the use of Ghana Card Number as TIN for individuals.
GRA, RGD and NIA collaboration
The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Registrar-General’s Department (RGD) in collaboration with the National Identification Authority (NIA) have in a joint statement said that, effective April 1, 2021, the Ghana Card Personal Identification Number (Ghana Card PIN) has replaced the Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) of individuals issued by the GRA for tax identification purposes.
This change is in line with Government’s policy on the use of a unique identifier for all transactions where the identification of an individual is required. To ensure a seamless roll-out of this initiative, the following measures have been instituted: registration officials of the National Identification Authority (NIA) are currently stationed at 14 GRA offices across the country to register individuals who do not possess a Ghana Card.
The registration officials will be at the following GRA/RGD offices: Registrar-General’s Department, Accra; Customs Long Room, Tema; Taxpayer Service Centres on the Spintex Road; Adabraka; Tema Community 1; Koforidua; Cape Coast; Takoradi; Asokwa; Sunyani; Ho; Bolgatanga; and Wa.
Registration officials of the NIA will eventually be stationed at 63 other GRA locations to serve all taxpayers. There will be a transition period from April 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021 where both the TIN and Ghana Card PIN may be used simultaneously as the unique number for tax identification purposes. After this period, it is expected that all existing TINs will be replaced with the Ghana Card PIN.
A Self-Service portal has been made available on the GRA website (www.gra.gov.gh) for existing taxpayers who have registered and have been issued with Ghana Card to link their Ghana Card PINs to their TIN. Any taxpayer with a Ghana Card must present it at any GRA office to be registered as a taxpayer.
It must be noted that, for transactions such as the filing of returns, payment of taxes, clearing of goods, registering of businesses, the Ghana Card PIN should be quoted on the documentation (Application Forms, Returns and Schedules) supporting the transactions.