Some 207 companies that are keeping their imported products in bonded warehouses have evaded import duties and tax payments to the tune of GH¢666,401,848.23, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has hinted.
The tax evasion took place between 2010 and 2016.
According to the GRA, each defaulting company would pay a 300 per cent pecuniary penalty as punishment to forestall the recurrence of similar acts in future.
A GRA document sighted by BUSINESS GUIDE said: “Following the verification of warehousing data for the period 2010 to 2016 by the Risk Management Unit (RMU), and contrary to the provisions in the law, some goods warehoused in 207 warehouses in Accra and Tema were found to have exceeded the storage period, failed to enter the goods as required by law and completely failed to pay the import duties payable on the goods held in the warehouses identified.”
Some of the companies were cited for the tax evasion deal in pharmaceuticals, rice and sugar imports, automobiles, building materials and general goods, among others.
Ken Ofori-Atta, Finance Minister, who presented the mid-year budget review to Parliament recently, stated that government would intensify tax compliance and plug existing revenue leakages.
“Investigations we have undertaken show inbound leakages on goods arriving in the country, significant outstanding tax debts, suspense regimes in the area of warehousing, transit trade and free zones, and tax audit issues such as limited coverage, low auditor productivity and low audit yields.
“We are rolling out major initiatives to address these tax compliance issues. These initiatives will include prosecution of tax evaders and corrupt tax officials, a special VAT Taskforce to ensure enforcement and deepen VAT penetration from the current low levels of 11 per cent and institutional reforms at GRA.”
He said tax compliance would also be boosted by the implementation of the common platform for communications traffic monitoring, revenue assurance, mobile money monitoring and fraud management.
“The Common Platform would provide government with an accurate and comprehensive view of telecom revenues in order to verify tax compliance and to ensure the comprehensive billing and collection of all telecom-related taxes, levies and regulatory fees.”
Touching on other tax compliance measures, he said government would vigorously pursue specialised audits in the areas of mining, oil and gas, telecommunications services, transfer pricing, as well as on high-net individuals.
Mr Ofori-Atta further said several billions of cedis are lost every year due to transfer-mispricing and tax evasion which leads to a lower than expected tax-to-GDP ratio.
For this reason, he said government would commission audits of local and multinational enterprises in mining, oil and gas, telecommunications services, and high-net worth individuals to address transfer mispricing and other forms of tax evasion.
Explaining further, the Finance Minister said, “GRA has enhanced its capacity on prosecution and investigations and will work with relevant state institutions to intensify its investigations and prosecution on non-tax compliant persons.”
Latest statistics from the Customs Division of the GRA said it missed its target by GH¢341.26 million on duties on imported goods, representing 23.6 per cent for the month of June alone.
The provisional June 2018 revenue collection report of the GRA indicates that the Customs Division of the GRA which had projected to collect GH¢1,445.40 million in duties at the country’s ports and other revenue check points only realised GH¢1,104.14 million.