The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has outlined a number of measures put in place to attain the 2020 revenue target of GHc47.2 billion, which was set before the emergence of COVID-19.
Due to the pandemic, the Ministry of Finance, in the mid-year budget, reviewed the figure down to GHc42.7 billion.
Despite the negative impact of COVID-19, the authority expressed its determination to collectively put shoulders to the wheel to achieve its ‘challenge’ target of GHc55 billion in these ‘not normal times’.
Commissioner-General, Rev Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah made the commitment at a media engagement in Accra.
The theme for the engagement was ‘Tax Compliance and the COVID-19 Pandemic – The Role of the Media’.
He announced that the total tax revenue for the half-year of 2020 was GHcc19.9 billion (GHc19, 955.31 million) as against a target of GHc21.4 billion (GHc21, 423.14 million), resulting in a negative deviation of 6.9%.
For the period, he said domestic tax collected was GH?15.3 billion (GHc15, 397.05 million), out of a budgeted target of GHc14.7 billion (GHc14,773.76 million).
According to him, customs collected GHc4.5 billion (GHc4, 558.26 million) out of the GHc6.6 billion (GHc6,649.38 million) target.
He revealed that the sectors that saw significant growth over the period were the mining, telecommunications and financial sectors.
He announced that in August, the Domestic Tax Revenue Division (DTRD) commenced the first phase of a nationwide restructuring exercise in Accra and Kumasi.
He noted that the aim of this exercise was to implement some of the feedback received from taxpayers on improving service delivery to them.
The GRA Commissioner-General disclosed that taxpayers can now file tax 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.
“At the TSCs, the taxpayer can file returns, make payments, register for TIN and tax types, make complaints, enquiries and receive tax education.
“TSCs will be supported by Area Offices, whose mandate is an administrative, audit and enforcement functions,” he said.
Tax Audit and Quality Assurance Department
Rev Owusu-Amoah stated that in June, the authority, together with the Ministry of Finance, inaugurated the Tax Audit and Quality Assurance Department, which was set up to ensure improved quality of audits and revenue assurance.
He explained that the department would manage the centralised 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, he encouraged the public to report cases of tax fraud and tax evasion for investigation and rewards.
To leverage technology and a digitalised operating platform to power a world-class GRA, he said several initiatives have been rolled out while others are in six stages of development.
According to him, 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.
Rev Owusu-Amoah noted that over 15 banks have been signed on to receive payment of taxes via the Ghana.gov platform, and was confident that by the end of the year, more banks would join.
“We will, therefore, be on our way to making payment of taxes more convenient for our taxpayers. In addition, to make payment of Vehicle Income Tax more convenient, we are piloting the payment of this tax via a USSD code *222#,” he said.
As a result of COVID-19, he said GRA had to re-strategise by adopting other relevant modes of reaching both taxpayers and the general public with its messages.
President of Private Newspaper Publishers Association (PRINPAG), Edwin Arthur which partnered GRA to organise the media engagement, called for closer collaboration.
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