The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has revealed that some leading shopping malls and eateries are duplicating electronic VAT serial numbers in an attempt to evade tax.
The Head of Accra Central Enforcement Area-GRA, Joseph Annan, speaking to the B&FT in Accra after a visit to some retail departmental shops said: “Palace Shopping Mall and other suspected entities are duplicating e-VAT serial numbers, an act tantamount to tax evasion. You have a situation wherein multiple invoices are bearing the same serial numbers. That is a pure case of duplication and they are short-changing the state.
“Others, including the Dzorwulo Branch of Second Cup Restaurant and Max Mart East Legon, were not issuing the invoices at all,” Mr. Annan disclosed.
The culprits are expected to face court action after all necessary investigations are concluded by the Authority. Indeed, the VAT Act 2013, sections 58, 59, stipulate a 1,500 penalty units fine or imprisonment of up to five years or a combination of both.
The Authority has emphasised that it will leverage the first quarter of this year to arrest managers of businesses not complying with the electronic VAT (e-VAT) invoice.
This specific exercise, according to Mr. Annan, will involve branches of key retail companies including shopping malls, restaurants and other entities.
Since Monday, management of about six branches of some retail businesses in the capital were arrested for non-compliance with the e-VAT directive.
The enforcement exercise is currently ongoing, according to the GRA, and will cover some 15 branches of major shopping malls and retail outlets in the capital.
This year, 2023, the GRA has set a revenue target of GH¢206billion – of which the Customs Division is expected to collect some GH¢28.5billion.
The ongoing e-VAT enforcement exercise is aimed at ensuring that some 50 targetted large tax payers enrol onto the certified invoicing system. The 50 companies are part of a total 600 companies that have been targetted for the first phase of a three-phase project. The Commissioner-General has officially and legally certified the e-VAT per the VAT Act 870 as amended.
It is worth noting that the 600 companies targetted for the project’s first phase pay 90 percent of total VAT revenue and a total 80 percent of the country’s entire domestic revenue.
The exercise is aimed at aiding the GRA to monitor live transactions in companies – thus improving revenue monitoring and collection systems. The system will also check the cases of under-invoicing and prevent avoiding the payment of VAT. When successful, this system will increase VAT contributions to tax revenue.
The project’s second phase will enrol medium tax payers onto the system in 2023, and the third and final phase is expected to enrol the remaining VAT application clients.