The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has stated that it will step up its revenue mobilization mechanism, and, in the coming months, begin processes to have tax evaders prosecuted and possibly imprisoned to serve as deterrent.
According to the authority, that would be the best next step to be able to enforce the law on compulsory tax and also retrieve state funds from taxable companies in the country.
These forms, GRA said, would further help the country’s revenue shore up to reduce the over dependent on loans and other grants from other countries.
Mr. Kofi Nti, Commissioner General of GRA, issued the warning when he appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament in Accra yesterday.
Answering questions from members of the committee on how taxes are being retrieved from companies who willfully evaded taxes and made the nation lose revenue substantially, the GRA boss said the Authority has been on the heels of companies that have defaulted payment of tax.
He said to retrieve taxes, the Authority formed taskforces across the country whose mandate are to go round and identify the defaulters and lock up their offices as a way of compelling them to honour their tax obligations.
When pressed further as to whether some defaulters have faced court action and possibly imprisoned, Mr. Nti said no one has ever been jailed for offence of evading of tax since time immemorial, but indicated that some have been fined and that prosecution and possibly imprisonment is being considered in the coming years.
“In Ghana’s history, there has never been a situation when somebody had gone to prison because of tax default but somehow from this year, we will be choosing that option,” he told the committee.
Nevertheless, he noted that, such a move is seriously being considered, as it has the potential of serving as deterrent to companies and individuals perpetrating tax evasion.
Explaining further, Mr. Nti expressed optimism that should some people go to prison for tax evasion, it would be a warning to potential defaulters to honour their tax obligations.
On the issue of rent tax, the GRA boss said the Authority has chalked success in part, especially the commercial/investment rent sector in the country.
He said, Ghanaians who rent for residential and commercial purposes are expected to pay a tax on the rent accommodation at 8% and 15%, respectively, stressing investors who rent for commercial purposes understand the law and take the tax from landlords to GRA.
However, the rent tax on domestic or residential, though has been improving, the difficulties occur when the tenants move out at a point and a new one takes over or, in some instances, the landlord/house owner takes over the property.
Nonetheless, he said, the Authority has been able to accrue about GHS330 million, but unable to meet its projected GHS200 million from rent.
The Financial Performance Auditor’s Reports of the GRA by the Auditor General covered the period of 2014/ 2015, and includes all agencies under the GRA.
Mr. James Klutse Avwedzi, the chairman of the PAC, expressed worry about some agencies paying monies into personal accounts or delay in transferring state funds from the deposited accounts to the consolidated fund account.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Engsalige Nyaaba