Tax Consultant, Eric Amponsah Boateng, has advocated more education on the benefits of E-Services to the national economy.
He said particularly at a time when the government was working through the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to widen the tax net to increase its domestic revenue, E-Services was one sure way to track and collect taxes from those who used it.
Mr Boateng also noted that, to do so effectively, there were certain portions of the country’s tax laws that must be amended to make it legal for such actions to be effected.
Mr Boateng was speaking in an interview with the acting Editor of the Graphic Business, Charles Benoni Okine, on the sidelines of the Graphic Business/ Stanbic Bank Breakfast meeting which was held at the La Beach Hotel in Acccra on March 22, 2022.
The thought-leadership programme, which has grown to become one of the major agenda-setting events on the national calendar, offers a platform for experts in various fields to discuss critical and relevant topics that have the potential to contribute to economic and social growth.
On the theme “Integration of E-Service into our economy: Implications for economic growth,” Tuesday’s meeting was the first of four quarterly events scheduled for the year to throw the spotlight on topics that border on the economy.
Mr Boateng said: “If you look at our tax laws, where the income is received is where you apply the tax. So if I buy something online from lets say, Amazon, they are not located in Ghana. The source of the income is Ghana but they are receiving the money in another country. So if you look at the law, technically, we cannot even go there and that is why the Ghana Revenue Authority currently has a Bill before Parliament that will allow them to withhold on account before the payment is made.”
He said on the face of the law, the only thing the GRA could do now was withholding payment on account because, according to him, it would not fetch the country any substantial amount.
Mr Boateng said the government must, therefore, concentrate on roping in businesses which were operating online into the tax net.
“We should find ways of locating these people and romp them into the tax net,” he stated.
Data on everybody
For that to be possible, he said the GRA needed data on everybody in the country, pointing out that the Ghana Card and the Tax Identification Number (TIN) was a good start.
“We need data on everybody and once we are able to get data on every body, we will be able to locate them, know exactly what they do and be able to apply the relevant taxes. If you are able to bring people in the informal sector then you will be able to expand the net. When you consider sub Saharan Africa, the tax to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio is 22 per cent but in Ghana, it is 12 per cent and this tells you that more Ghanaians are not in the tax net,” he explained.
He said the GRA must, therefore, find innovative ways to rope in all these online businesses into the tax net.
“It’s very good that the Ghana card will now become the TIN. On the Ghana card, you have all the details of the individual so once you get the card, you will be able to locate the individual or the business and apply whatever taxes that you should,” he pointed out.
With regard to the issue of data protection, he said that had already been captured under the laws of the country and it gave the GRA the right to capture whatever data it needed.