The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), compliance and enforcement unit, says the non-issuance of Valued Added Tax (VAT) invoice is a criminal offence and can lead to prosecution.
The Authority said tax defaulters could be charged under sections 78 and 82 of the Revenue Administration Act, 2016 (Act 915) that focus on failure to comply with a tax law and impeding tax administration, respectively.
This was said when the GRA continued with its operations to ensure compliance of issuing of VAT invoices by companies.
The GRA expects that all suppliers of taxable items, goods or services, to issue VAT invoice as required by law and also in the same vein, the customer is required by law to obtain VAT invoice from business owners for goods purchased.
During the operation, the shops visited were Hansen Decor City, Boost Electronics, De’lish Restaurant, Heiress Flair Boutique, Max pro Auto Parts, Relay Express Laundry and Dry-Cleaning Services, Julie-Joan Enterprise, House of Fabrics, Dong Chebe Kretons, Fresh Angels, Gi-Fred Enterprise, Milans Star Fabrics, About Office Ghana Limited, all located in the Ayawaso West Municipal District.
However, ten shops were invited officially to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Unit of the Ghana Police Service for investigation, while two shop managers were arrested for a preemptive assessment.
The managers were taken to the Customs Office at the headquarters for their statements before being handed over to the CID.
Mr Joseph Annan, Area Enforcement Manager of GRA in charge of Accra Central, said that some of the shops were issuing their own VAT and others were practicing selective issuance, while some Shops were found not to be issuing the Commissioner-General’s invoice and issuing their own VAT when a test-purchase was done on them, adding that they had violated regulations of the VAT.
He said it was an offence not to issue the VAT invoice and the law would take its own course.
He said every registered VAT taxpayer was required to issue an electronic VAT invoice with details prescribed by the Commissioner-General when they provided services or supply goods.
Mr. Annan said the punishment for such infractions as provided under the VAT Act included a fine of not more than one hundred penalty units or a term of imprisonment of not more than six months, or both, in addition to a payment of penalty of an amount of not more than GHc50,000 or three times the amount of tax involved.
“Customers who dodge the operation cannot run away from the law, because they will be caught unexpectedly”, he said.
He said the operation would continue until the whole tax payment was automated on a system to enforce mandatory payments.
He urged the media to keep on publicising the tax payment policy awareness for the public to have a first-hand idea about payment of VAT.