Parliament has passed a bill to grant tax amnesty to people who have failed to file their tax returns or pay taxes as required under the Internal Revenue Act, 2000 (Act 592).
The Internal Revenue (Tax Amnesty) Bill 2011 is, therefore, to grant amnesty to such people from paying penalties and interests in respect of the taxes due or payable.
The bill was presented and read the first time in Parliament on December 20, 2011 and subsequently referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report, in accordance with the 1992 Constitution and the Standing Orders of the House.
In its deliberations, the committee observed that with the rebasing of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it had become necessary for measures to be put in place to improve the tax revenue/GDP ratio.
According to the report of the committee, another motivation for the introduction of the bill was to free people from the fear of being made to pay interests and penalties on the amount of taxes owed, so that they could come forward to regularise their tax position with the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
Currently, the GRA has embarked on an electronic registration of taxpayers and, to make the registration meaningful, there is the need to grant amnesty to qualified people, so that such persons will voluntarily own up and be captured in the registration exercise.
“The committee thoroughly scrutinised the bill and found that its passage would help widen the income tax net and ensure the optimum collection of revenue by the GRA,” the report said.
After the bill had gone through its consideration stage, a Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Seth Tekper, moved the motion for its third reading, after which it was pronounced passed by the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho.
Speaking to newsmen after the passage of the bill, Mr Tekper said the government would ensure that the country’s tax net was widened in order to raise more money to finance development projects.
He indicated that after the bill had received presidential assent, it would be implemented in the next financial year.
Story: Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah