Business News of 2014-06-05

GRA educates taxpayers on new tax laws

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Osu Medium Taxpayer Office (MTO), has organised a seminar for taxpayers within its catchment area to educate them on the Self-Assessment tax law, and on the new VAT Act, to ensure prompt and voluntary tax payment.

Consultants and taxpayers within Labone, La, Osu, Cantonment, Airport, and Ministries area, who attended the seminar, were also educated on rent tax, as well as tax returns and submission.

Mr Kwasi Oppong Damoah, Assistant Commissioner, Head, Osu MTO, said the seminar was part of activities being carried out by GRA to educate taxpayers on their tax obligations to ensure compliance.

He explained that the self-assessment law, as introduced by the Internal Revenue Act 2000, mandates taxpayers to be responsible for accurately computing and reporting their tax liability to GRA. “The taxpayer is allowed to forecast, estimate and assess his or her tax obligations. He or she computes the tax liabilities with limited or no intervention of tax officials and submit to GRA”.

Mr Damoah said the self-assessment was being introduced to help move away from what Ghana had largely been practicing under the Administrative Assessment, especially with Direct Taxes, where provisional assessment were raised at the beginning of the year and served on taxpayers.

Taxpayers may then decide to object to the assessment and give reasons for the objection which when determined, and then the taxpayer pays the tax determined on objection. If no objection was raised, then the assessment has to be paid on four quarterly installments.

Mr Damoah said though VAT has practised self-assessment right from its inception in 1998, and under some tax types such as Direct Tax like PAYE, Gift Tax, Capital Gains Tax and withholding Tax, self-assessment was being introduced to allow Large Taxpayers, and Medium Tax payers to truthfully assess and fulfil their tax obligations.

“The ultimate aim of self-assessment is to promote voluntary compliance, therefore if a taxpayer refuses to pay his or her tax we will also force you to pay” he cautioned.

He warned that GRA would carry out auditing on the returns and estimates brought in by taxpayers under the self-assessment and if “ a self-assessed person’s estimate or revised estimate of chargeable income for an assessment year is less than 90 per cent of the person’s actual chargeable income the person would be sanctioned”.

He said while most of the tax laws were being amended, staff of GRA was also being re-trained on how to best serve taxpayers as clients and customers, and not as cheats. “We are also talking to GRA staff to move away from conniving with some taxpayers to cheat the system”.

He, therefore, advised taxpayers to set up appropriate record-keeping systems, and ensure that expenditure was properly recorded and classified for tax purposes.

“Ghana lags behind some African countries as far as self-assessment practice is concerned, and there is therefore the need to build the required trust and confidence between the taxpayer and tax administration, and also adopt the best practice available,” Mr Damoah stressed.

Source: GNA
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