The Ghana Revenue Authority has over several years grappled with the problem of tax avoidance and evasion from company’s, sole proprietors, among others.
Tax Avoidance in Ghana
A study carried out by the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), on behalf of the National Coordinating Council of Public Services International (PSI) revealed that Ghana loses close to $2.1 billion annually to tax evasion by corporate groups, individuals, multinationals and organisations operating in the country.
The study further revealed that between 1970 and 2008, the nation lost more than $4.9 billion as a result of the tax avoidance in Ghana by such entities.
To curb this constant loss in revenue, the Commissioner-General of the GRA, Rev. Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah, who spoke at the launch of the Revenue Assurance, Compliance and Enforcement (RACE) initiative, made it known that his outfit was committed to the use of artificial intelligence to ensure that there’s compliance with the tax laws of the land as well as ensure defaulters are brought to book.
“We are focusing on data warehousing, data matching, and artificial intelligence to be able to make sure that there’s compliance. Defaulters who in the past were able to dodge, in the future we are sure that we’ll be able to find them. Therefore, enforcement actions are very important for us to ensure that we comply,” the Commissioner-General of the GRA said.
GRA on Tax Avoidance in Ghana
In addition to the above, the Commissioner-General of the GRA indicated that from October 1, its outfit will deem any expenditure of taxpayers who do not have a VAT Invoice to support said expenditure as non-existent.
“In fact, from October 1, we have come out with an initiative that says that if you present any expenditure when you’re being audited, and you don’t have a VAT invoice to support that particular expenditure, it does not exist as far as GRA is concerned. So it means that everyone who does their expenditure in line with the VAT regulations must ensure that whatever he/she reports in his books comply with the VAT regulations,” Rev. Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah said.
In short, for any taxpayer who fails to support their expenditure with a VAT invoice, that taxpayer may be treated as trying to avoid paying his taxes as such relevant sanctions may be imposed.
According to GRA, anyone who issues a false tax invoice or sales receipt; uses a false taxpayer identification number, or fails to issue a tax invoice or sales receipt, is liable to a term in imprisonment, and a penalty of not more than GHS500.00 or three times the amount of tax involved.