The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has begun the process of drawing up guidelines that will encourage voluntary tax compliance, the Technical Advisor to the Commissioner-General of the GRA, Henry Yentumi, has said.
“The administrative guidelines to go along with the tax policy are just in the final stages of preparation. Within the next five to ten days, at the very latest, you will get full guidelines telling everybody what the tax amnesty is, what their rights under the policy are, their rights of appeal and the processes that are going to be applied, importantly, to make sure that they are able to take advantage of the policy,” he told B&FT in an interview at the Tax Amnesty Executive Forum under the auspices of the UK Ghana Chamber of Commerce and GRA.
Parliament, during its final meeting last year, passed the Tax Amnesty bill as part of plans to improve voluntary tax compliance.
The law is expected to grant amnesty by readjusting the penalty to be paid by persons who fail to register with the Commissioner-General or file tax returns or pay their taxes as required by law.
Mr. Yentumi is confident the move should help in meeting government’s revenue target for the year.
Furthermore, the law is also in line with governments’ policy to decrease taxes on production, in order to lower the cost of production and increase financial liquidity for the economy’s productive sectors.
Mr. Yentumi also disclosed that the GRA is working on an enhanced automation process in collaboration with SSNIT, Registrar-General, and Ghana Ports to ensure the setting up of a data warehouse and data mining – with regard to gathering information on imports and exports.
He explained that: “It is going to be difficult not to have a 360-degree view of the tax payer, because if you have a TIN identification number to present in all your dealings, you have a situation where you go to register company and we are actually linking the data through the data warehouse to GRA records; you have a situation wherein the ports now have a paperless system. So, the whole idea of manual system is going away; automation enables us to pay by mobile money, and in various ways we are ensuring that we have a way of checking non-compliance and ensuring everybody meets their tax obligations”.
The GRA has said it is determined to drive publicity and increase stakeholder engagement, as well as write directly to all companies and get the infrastructure available to make the tax amnesty work – and get people who would normally not come to file taxes to do so in order to broaden the tax net.
The GRA generated US$7.6billion last year, as against US$6.9billion in the last 10 years.
Tony Burkson from the UK Ghana Chamber of Commerce explained the rationale for the forum thus: “The UKGCC and its members have been lobbying for a tax amnesty because there are a lot of people that have not been paying taxes in Ghana, and if the government thinks it is going to get all those taxes back, it is not going to happen.
“When the Finance Minister announced in the budget that there was going to be a tax amnesty, we felt it was time to publicly engage all the stakeholders”.