The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) taskforce has arrested five managers of shopping malls in Accra for allegedly evading tax on the electronic Value Added Tax (VAT) system.
The five companies are Max Mart (37 and Cantonments branches) Koala(Osu and Cantonments) and The Palace (The Outlet).
The companies were found not to be issuing the e-VAT invoice while Palace Mall at Labone was faulted for issuing receipts with duplicate signatures of the Commissioner General of the Ghana Revenue Authority.
The Managers were sent to the Customs office at the headquarters for their statements before they were handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department of the Police.
The initiative is part of an ongoing nationwide VAT invigilation exercise to ensure tax compliance and retrieve taxes due the State.
Accra Central Area Enforcement Manager who led the exercise, Joseph Annan explained that
under section 41 of the VAT Act 2013, (Act 870) as amended by Act 1082 and Act 1087, every registered VAT taxpayer was required to issue an electronic VAT invoice with details that are prescribed by the Commissioner General when they provided services or supplied goods.
He explained that punishment for such infractions as provided under the VAT Act included a fine of not more than 1,500 penalty units or a term of imprisonment of not more than five years, or both, in addition to a payment of penalty of an amount of not more than GH¢50, 000 or three times the amount of tax involved.
He said people who flouted the law could also be charged under sections 78 and 82 of the Revenue Administration Act, 2016 (Act 915) focused on the failure to comply with tax law and impeding tax administration, respectively.
Mr Joseph Annan, further revealed that the exercise would be extended to other regions aside from the Greater Accra Region.
He said the GRA will sue some of the shops in court for the infractions since the cases are many and varied.
“It depends on the manager and the case that we will build against a particular shop. Each case is being looked at separately from the others.”
The manager of the Koala Cantonments branch delayed the GRA officers with the excuse that she was waiting for someone to come and take over from her because she did not want to leave the shop unattended.
The GRA later discovered she had taken them for granted.
Before she agreed to go with the GRA officials, attempts were made to lock the shop.
The manager of the Palace Shopping Mall, a foreigner, attempted to assault one of the journalists who was covering the exercise.
He was stopped by security personnel accompanying GRA officials to the mall.
Mr. Annan warned businesses to follow the law and avoid tax evasion.