GRA Clarifies Upfront Payment Policy for VAT at Ports

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Assistant Commissioner Joseph Fiadzo Left And Senior Revenue Officer Felicia Omotayo Owusu Right
Assistant Commissioner Joseph Fiadzo Left And Senior Revenue Officer Felicia Omotayo Owusu Right

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), recently announced the introduction of an upfront payment of 12.5% on the customs values of VAT registerable imports at the various entry ports of the country.

However, the Ghana Revenue Authority has clarified that this is not a new tax, but a tool to ensure VAT compliance among importers of goods.

Speaking with Kennedy Mornah on the Eye on Port TV program, officials of the Ghana Revenue Authority indicated that the primary goal of this measure is to ensure that importers of VAT-taxable goods register.

They also revealed that the compliance intervention is also to ensure the integrity of the tax system and bring parity in the treatment of VAT within the taxpayer population.

An Assistant Commissioner and the Office manager at the Nima Taxpayer Service Centre, Mr. Joseph Fiadzo said, “the policy is aimed at roping in more taxable persons, in that, the taxpayer who is faced with the situation of upfront payment at the port, once he has registered, we will be able to know his channel of distribution and get others into the tax net.”

“We have some groups who have registered for VAT and charging VAT. Other importers will bring goods into country and will not charge VAT. If we go to the market, buying the same category of goods from these separate traders, they will cost differently,” a Senior Revenue Officer at the Spintex Taxpayer Service Center, Felicia Omotayo Owusu added.
According to Felicia Omotayo Owusu one must satisfy the various conditions to register for the upfront payment to be refunded.

She said firstly one must make the 12.5% payment. Secondly, the taxpayer must proceed to register at any of the taxpayer offices. At that point, the taxpayer must settle outstanding tax liabilities including interests and penalties. This includes filing all tax returns and the fulfilment of all tax obligations and then finally the taxpayer can go ahead to apply for the refund at www.taxpayersportal.com.

They clarified that this law only applies to commercial quantities of goods that are valued at 200,000 cedis and above.

“The threshold is 200,000 cedis and above, per consignment or annual figures. For example, if you imported goods worth 190,000 cedis this month, it makes you do not meet the threshold and do not qualify to make the upfront payment. But if you import again in subsequent months, we will monitor you and you will have to pay the 12.5%,” the Senior Revenue Officer explained.

The GRA said all goods the VAT Amendment Act, 2022 (Act 1082) has excluded remain exempt from the application of this tax intervention.

“Apart from goods placed under the first schedule of the VAT act or those goods listed under the harmonized commodity classification system as exempt at importation, all other goods are taxable. We also have imports into the Free Zones, Bonded Warehouse goods, Suspense Regime goods and goods that are relieved under the third schedule, for example those to the office of the President, diplomatic missions and technical assistant schemes,” Mr. Fiadzo explained.

He said ahead of implementation, the tax authorities have adequately consulted and sensitized identifiable trade groups, importers and the media on the policy intervention.

The Ghana Revenue Authority is therefore calling on VAT registrable importers to register ahead of importing goods into the country to avoid the upfront payment.

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