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The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has said it is determined to ensure the newly-introduced Excise Tax Stamp regime works, as it seeks to block tax leakages and shore-up government revenue.
“Mostly, taxes on tobacco and beverages are not paid properly; but we need more revenue for development. We must also ensure that tax-compliant businesses are protected from the harsh effects of activities like smuggling and under-invoicing,” Programmes Manager of the Excise Tax Stamp Programme, Kwabena Apau Awuah Anto, told journalists in Accra.
He added: “The tax stamp exercise must work because we need to secure taxes for national development. People who want to do genuine business are happy about it, and a lot of them have applied to us (GRA) for free stamping”.
Implementation of the tax stamp regime is rooted in the Excise Tax Stamp Act 2013 (Act 873), as a measure of tax compliance to check the incidence of under-invoicing affected imported products, and to curb the influx of harmful and inferior products onto the Ghanaian market.
Aside from cigarettes and other tobacco products, all alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages and water “whether bottled, canned, contained in kegs for sale or packaged in any other form”, must have the paper tax stamps affixed to them.
Prior to the scheduled March 1st take-off, local beverage manufacturers had contested its hasty implementation, as well as delays and cost implications of having to affix paper stamps on their products.
Instead of the paper stamps, they suggested that tax codes be digitally printed on the bottles; which, they believe, is more time-saving and cost-effective to both parties.
Government however insists enough consultation has gone on, and has given up to June for manufacturers, importers, retailers, distributors and wholesalers of tobacco and beverage products to ensure that all their stock has been affixed with the tax stamps.
Those who fail to comply could have their goods confiscated, or face a jail term of up to five years.
Checking against fake stamps
According to the GRA, current tax stamps in the system have been printed with a special ink which is very difficult to be faked.
They have also acquired special gadgets, including magnifying glasses and hand scanners, which can easily detect whether tax stamps affixed on products on the market are genuine or fake.
“We will deploy officers who will move from shop to shop to enforce compliance and check for fake stamps,” Mr. Anto cautioned.
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