The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) is urging the media to assist in educating the public to honour their tax obligation to help the country mobilise revenue to continue with the ongoing development.
It is no secret lack of compliance is one of the main challenges that face the GRA in its efforts to mobilize funds for the development of the country.
In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, the problem has even worsened with the GRA having to deal with the inability to chase defaulting taxpayers at a point when restrictions on movement which was put in place to help curb the spread of the disease.
During a media engagement at the Coconut Groove Hotel in Accra On September 11 under the theme, “Tax Compliance and the COVID-19 Pandemic," the acting Commissioner-General, Rev. Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah revealed that the Authority had envisaged a massive tax education initiative for this year.
As a result of the GRA’s inability to carry on with the initiative due to the Covid-19 crisis, the authority is now turning to the media for assistance.
“We have had to re-strategize by adopting other relevant modes of reaching both taxpayers and the general public with our messages. We, therefore, need the support of our media stakeholders to assist us carry our tax messages so that we can achieve a high level of voluntary compliance among our taxpayers”, Rev. Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah told editors of some selected media houses.
According to the GRA Ag. Commissioner-General, it is the vision of the authority to combine vigorous enforcement of the tax laws with voluntary compliance and one of the key ways of achieving this is through education and engagement.
Revenue Target, Performance
He stressed that already, the GRA is on its target of mobilizing GHS42.7 billion at the end of the year. He indicated that data at the end of the first half the year reveals a total revenue of GHS19, 955.31million was collected as against a target of GHS21, 423.14M, resulting in a negative deviation of 6.9%.
Mr Owusu-Amoah said despite the shortfall, the Authority is even challenged to meet a revenue target of GHS55million with the implementation of prudent policies.
"As an Authority, we cannot continue to do business as usual, thus, we have put in place a number of measures to ensure that we attain our 2020 revenue target. We are determined as an organization to collectively put our shoulders to the wheel as we roll out some of the policies in these ‘not normal times," he emphasised.
Revenue performance, he noted, for the period reveals that Domestic tax collected GHC15, 397.05M out of a budgeted target of GHC 14,773.76, while Customs collected GHC4, 558.26M out of the GHC 6,649.38 target.
According to him, the sectors that saw significant growth over the period were the mining, telecommunications and financial sectors.
On the transformation agenda, Mr Owusu-Amoah stressed that the Domestic Tax Revenue Division (DTRD) commenced the first phase of a nationwide restructuring exercise in Accra and Kumasi in August.
He indicated that the aim of this exercise was to implement some of the feedback they have received from taxpayers on improving service delivery to them.
"Now taxpayers will be able to file returns at the nearest Taxpayer Service Centre (TSCs) irrespective of turnover. This will create convenience for taxpayers and free them to use their time for other productive ventures. The aim is to establish offices not on the basis of turnovers as it was previously but rather with respect to jurisdiction," he intimated.
Rev. Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah added that a number of initiatives have been rolled out whiles others at various stages of development.
He mentioned the introduction of the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) at the ports with the objective of ensuring more efficient management and collection of customs duties and taxes.
He added that the modules in the second phase of the Integrated Tax Application and Processing System (ITaPS), have been deployed on the Ghana.gov platform making it possible for taxpayers to file some returns and make payments online. "Now, over fifteen banks have been signed on to receive payment of taxes via the Ghana.gov platform and we are confident that by the end of the year more banks will join us. We will therefore be on our way to making payment of taxes more convenient for our taxpayers."
In addition to making payment of Vehicle Income Tax more convenient, Mr Owusu-Amoah indicated that the Authority is piloting the payment of tax via a USSD code *222#.
Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)
The Acting Commissioner - General announced that 1,630,900 persons have acquired the Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TINs).
He said the figure which increased significantly between May and June 2020 is as a result of the requirement of a TIN to register to access Government’s COVID19 stimulus package from the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI).
Mr Owusu-Amoah added that the Authority together with the Ministry of Finance in June 2020 inaugurated the Tax Audit and Quality Assurance Department which was set up to ensure improved quality of audits and revenue assurance.
According to him, the Department will manage the centralized audit planning process, serve as the audit centre of excellence, monitor and ensure quality audit across the operational Divisions and investigate significant tax gaps including cases of suspected tax evasion, avoidance and fraud. "In this regard, we encourage you to report cases of tax fraud and tax evasion to us for investigation and rewards."