The Government of Ghana is to grant a tax amnesty for a period of eight months, beginning January 31, 2017 and ending August 31, 2018.
After the amnesty period, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) would be embarking on a vigorous campaign to ensure compliance, including court actions.
According to the Report of the Finance Committee of Parliament on the Tax Amnesty Bill 2017, adopted by the House, the Government is introducing the amnesty to exempt taxpayers, who register and file returns within the targeted period from paying penalties and interests for late submission or non-submission of returns as well as non-payment of taxes.
Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah, Chairman of the Finance Committee of Parliament, presenting the report recalled that, as per the Budget Statement, Government’s policy is to reduce taxes on the ordinary Ghanaian
“The reduction can be achieved if the tax base is broadened.
“The measure therefore is to help broaden the tax base and improve compliance. This would help accelerate growth of the Private Sector and generate jobs,” he said.
Deputy Minister of Finance Kwaku Kwarteng at the Finance Committee sitting observed that a significant number of taxpayers fail to file returns with average filing rates below 50 per cent. Further, the sanctions and penalties are quite stringent and that deter taxpayers from coming forward voluntarily to file returns and make outstanding payments.
The GRA, according to the report has done a lot of work to update its database on taxpayers, and the Authority now has information on teachers, lawyers, members of all professional bodies and doctors among others.
The amnesty is to give them the opportunity to come to the Authority and file their returns. After the period, the Authority would go after defaulters.
The Bill, passed under a certificate of urgency has eight clauses, among which are amnesty for taxes, penalties and interests, and prohibits the Commissioner General from assessing or recovering taxes, penalties and interest in respect of previous years up to and including the 2017 year of assessment.
Clause Two deals with amnesty for penalties and interests and prohibits the Commissioner-General from assessing or recovering penalties in respect of the previous year’s up to, and including the 2017 year of assessment from a person where that person submits returns or amended returns containing previously undisclosed liabilities up to the 2017 year of assessment on or before September 30, 2018 and pays all assessed and outstanding taxes.
Clause Three provides the scope of tax amnesty; Clause Four deals with the application of tax amnesty and specifies the time frame, requirements and procedure for applying the tax amnesty.
In Clause Five, there is provision for complaints and determination of complaints; while Clause Six deals with payment terms; Clause Seven deals with tax remission and Clause Eight provides for administrative guidelines.
The House, meanwhile adjourned on Friday for the Christmas and New Year Break. The House would resume sitting on January 23, 2018.