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More register for TIN

BY: Emelia Ennin Abbey
Mr Michael Sefa
Mr Michael Sefa

More taxpayers and potential taxpayers are registering for the tax identification number (TIN) which has become mandatory for accessing some essential state services and carrying out business transactions.

Checks at the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) have shown that more than 1.9 million Ghanaians had registered for TIN as of the end of December 2018, following moves by the authority to enforce the Revenue Administration Act, Act 915.

In an exclusive interview, the Head of the Tax Identification Number Office at the GRA, Mr Michael Sefa, said: “Now there is a rush for the TIN. More people are applying for the TIN because everybody wants it.”

As of the end of December 2018, a total of 1,999,643 TINs had been generated, he said.

Data available at the GRA indicate that only 17,765 TINs were generated in 2017, while in 2018 the number of TINs generated was 1,044,465.

Enforcement

In line with enforcing the Revenue Administration Act, Act 915, people without TINs will be denied access to some essential services, such as acquisition of driving licences and passports, the clearance of goods at the ports, land registration, opening bank accounts, among others.

The TIN is a unique 11-digit number required under the Revenue Administration Act, Act 915, which is expected to enable taxpayers to transact business with ease.

It is also expected to address issues of tax evasion by individuals and companies and instances of taxpayers owning more than one tax certificate.

Read Also: TIN no longer prerequisite for business registration

More taxpayers

Mr Sefa said the number of applications started going up after April 2018 following the re-launch of the  TIN by the Vice-President,

Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, and the commencement of a nationwide enforcement campaign.

“It is a very good policy that the GRA has embarked on. It will help broaden the tax base because if you look at the current population and the percentage of taxpayers on the database of the GRA, you will find out that those paying taxes are few,” he said.
Currently, the GRA has 2.5 million taxpayers on its books.

Delays

On concerns about delays in getting the TIN, Mr Sefa explained that applicants must get their TINs in 14 days, explaining, however, that “there are teething problems”.
“The rush for application has resulted in the system being overcrowded and in some cases slowing down the process,” he said.

Mr Sefa said some of the applicants had also not been providing the necessary information required for the registration process, while others did not append their signatures before submitting the forms.

“The application form is the primary document we work with. Some of the applicants have poor handwriting, which makes it difficult to read. Others have different names on the identification cards which they are required to attach to the form,” he said.

Concerning the massive delay in the online process, Mr Sefa said: “There are a few challenges and our IT experts are reviewing the processes through the e-gov programme. We are working on them with speed to improve the process. There are many people who also used the online application process and were successful.”

He said some of the challenges could be beyond the GRA, including poor network and applicants’ inability to upload scanned identification cards.

“With the online, the applicant has to enter the basic information and attach documents such as identity cards, as required, and submit. After that, the information is processed and an auto response is generated.

“Because people waited, now there is a rush. The system is overloaded. We are improving on the processing time. We have instances when we have generated TINs on the same day or in three days,” he said.

When asked about instances when people could forge TINs, Mr Sefa said:  “We have heard of such reports and it is a crime for people to do so. Such persons will be prosecuted, if arrested. The application process is free and so there is no need to forge the TIN.”

“To verify the TIN, agencies must always check that it is 11 digits and starts with a P for an individual and a C for a company,” he added.

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