Adnan Adams Mohammed
The Ghana Revenue Authority has indicated that the Integrated Tax Application Process System (ITAPS) introduced last year has already recorded about 6000 users with over 5000 users filing their taxes through the system.
The first phase of the project targeted the Personal Income Tax category, with the second phase to be launched soon which will cover local companies and multinationals. The online tax payment system was introduced to help make tax filing easy and convenient to taxpayers and also reduce the cost of compliance with the taxpayer.
The app is an e-services platform that will enable taxpayers to prepare, apply and receive GRA services online. With this, both individuals and companies will be able to file their annual tax returns at their own convenience. The app also allows, electronically, access to TAX Clearance Certificate (e-TCC) as well as Withholding Tax Credit Certificate (e-Tax Credit) and VAT Withholding Tax Credit Certificate (e-VAT Credit)
“ITAPS is a compliance tool and to that extent, it would improve on our revenue”, Rev. Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah, Commissioner General of GRA noted at a media interaction event organised by PRINPAG with support from GRA. He retorted, “We are working hard to achieve the target or better exceed it through the implementation of policies.”
The Authority at the press event declared their preparedness and making maximum efforts through effectiveness and efficiency to exceed the revised tax revenue target set by the finance minister in the mid-year budget.
The government revised down the tax revenue target from GHC47.2 billion to GHC42.7 billion using the Coronavirus pandemic as an excuse.
According to figures from GRA, half-year performance missed the target by a little over a billion Ghana cedis as it recorded GHC19.9 billion against the target of GHC21 billion. This was when the coronavirus pandemic was ravaging all sectors of the economy at its peak, during the second quarter from March to June.
Of this, the mining sector (which saw gold price appreciating continuously over the last months), the telecommunications sector (through the communication service) and the financial sector contributed most to the half-year performance of tax revenues collected.
However, the excise duties, mostly on consumables such as soft drinks, water, alcohol and others, Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and income tax of SMEs underperformed during the half year.
Also, in solving the challenges of under-clearing and under-invoicing of some taxpayers and also to address the complaints of taxpayers, the Authority has strengthened and increase the capacity of its Tax Audit and Quality Assurance Department to be able to do double-checking of accounts of companies so they detect any deliberate or oversight malpractices to maximize tax collections. It will also be efficient in addressing clients’ complaints to ensure hassle-free tax system for all.
With these, the management of GRA believes it will help them to maximize tax collections and meet or exceed their target.
According to the GRA, the introduction of the app follows calls by the Vice President, Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia, to move away from the manual filing of taxes to a digital module to increase compliance.
The Authority says the app will complement government’s efforts in improving its rank on the ease of doing business. GRA also seeks to reduce cost and time required by taxpayers to comply with tax laws.
By way of record-keeping, the ITAPS seeks to assist taxpayers to keep the records required to fulfil their tax obligations. GRA also aims to improve its performance of Tax Administration Diagnostic Tools (TADAT) ranking under voluntary compliance.
The digital app is expected to improve the quality of tax returns submitted by the payers. According to the GRA issues surrounding revenue assurance, convenience and simplicity have also been addressed by the app. As a result, taxpayers have the option of either filing their returns via mobile money or online.
The Authority says is also working with SSNIT, NIA among other organizations in terms of data sharing to ensure optimum benefit.
The Authority has revealed that plans available to ensure that the informal sector does not have any challenge transacting on the app. It has however hinted of routine education and campaigns in the coming days.