Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta has inaugurated a newly created Tax Audit and Quality Assurance Department within the Ghana Revenue Authority to protect the taxpayer from abuse by some officers and to block revenue leakages.
The new unit is to also help harmonise and streamline tax audits to avoid multiple audits of the same tax types and same periods of the same taxpayers.
Inaugurating it, Mr Ofori-Atta said the department would introduce best practices in tax audit and tax excellence with professionalism at the GRA and also ensure tax audit compliance and enforcement reforms in moving Ghana Beyond Aid.
He said the idea of the unit was not to punish staff but improve the system to ensure tax audit professionalism, adding that amnesty would be given to any staff who have been involved in such bad practices prior to the launch of the unit effective June 16, 2020.
“Thus, from June 16, 2020,, any staff member found in contravention of our tax laws and the professional ethics shall be sanctioned accordingly,” he said.
There will be a publicity campaign to all stakeholders including taxpayers to educate them about the Unit so that taxpayers desist from bad dealings with tax officers and to punish taxpayers found to be involved in such unacceptable deals together with the officers.
Mr Ofori-Atta said a Call centre would be created within the department with a toll -free number 0800900111 for the public so that taxpayers could call and report their challenges regarding officers who might demand money or seek for any other selfish interest before performing their duties.
The Minister said by helping to digitize all tax audits and ensuring e-tax systems payment at GRA would boost the effort to move Ghana’s tax-to-GDP ratio 13 percent to comparable levels of her peers within the Sub-Saharan region.
Among other roles, the unit would help broaden the tax net with a focus on the informal sector by leveraging on technology and other modes of operation, provide suitable and regular training and tax exposures for tax auditors and ensure critical attention on post-clearance audit within customs division.
Rev Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah, Acting Commissioner-General GRA, said the GRA was working to transform the Authority into an excellent institution, which is better placed to respond to the emerging challenges in revenue administration.
He said in line with the vision to enhance efficiency, the GRA had created the new system following complaints from taxpayers about how tax audits are conducted as different units carried out audit exercises.
Rev Owusu-Amoah said with the new system, audits would be carried out in three key areas of quality assurance, data mining, and re-performance audit to manage the centralized audit planning process, serve as the audit centre of excellence and monitor and ensure audit quality across the operational divisions.
There will also be an investigation of significant tax gaps including all cases of suspected tax evasion, tax avoidance, and fraud.
He said tax audit and quality assurance was very critical to the revenue mobilization effort as it guarantees that tax returns by businesses or individuals are accurate and complete and that the correct taxes had been declared and paid.
He pledged adequate human and logistical resources to ensure the smooth operation of the Department.