Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) through its revenue mobilization task force embarked on a national exercise aimed at prosecuting all business entities who fail to issue tax invoices to clients.

It has hinted that an amount of GHC128.6 million was collected from 164 taxpayers.

GRA, last week, shut down two hotels in Accra for failure to issue VAT/NHIL invoices.

This follows investigations conducted by the BNI that showed only 3 out of 42 businesses issue VAT invoices to customers who patronized goods and services.

The hotels; Adeko and New Haven which are among the 42 investigated, will face various degrees of punishment including a jail term of up to six months.

The Head of Revenue Tax Mobilization, Henry Bradford Sam, gave the caution when he spoke to the media on the issue.

“The Ghana Revenue Authority has clamped down on businesses that fail to issue the VAT invoice or issue their own invoice or do what we call selective issuance of VAT invoice”, he said.

“The Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) assisted the Ghana Revenue Authority and carried out due diligence through test purchase and examined that the number of tax payers who totaled forty two, only three issued the VAT invoice. Thirty nine of them were found to be issuing their own invoice or no invoice at all or what we call selective issuance of VAT invoice, this in contrary to the law”, he added.

The joint operation between officers of the GRA and the law enforcement agencies is being carried out to take possession of and have access to business records of delinquent taxpayers who fail to issue VAT/NHIL invoices to customers. The exercise will also determine the tax liability arising out of the infractions of the laws, pursuant to Section 33 of the Revenue Administration Act 2016, Act 915.

Guilty persons may also be charged to pay an amount of not more than five hundred currency points or three times the amount of tax involved, depending on which amount is highest.

Meanwhile the Ghana Tourism Authority has also closed down about 20 hotels operating illegally in the Eastern Region.

The hotels situated in Adawso, Mamfe, Akropong, Aburi and Akuapem have been operating for years, without a license.

According to the Eastern Regional Manager of the Authority, Rudolf Adjei Fredrick, the clamp down is aimed to maintain the standards of the tourism industry.

“For every business that you want to involve yourself in there are rules and regulations that govern it. In the hospitality industry, specifically hotels and guest houses they need to be registered and licensed by the Ghana Tourism Authoritry before they can be registered but we have come to the realization over the years that most of them are operating without a valid license, and before that we ensure that you have the basic facilities to operate”.

He added that the exercise will also protect the public from patronizing substandard services.

“It’s quite evident they are given substandard services and there is no way we can license them. After the exercise we will hand over their keys to the police service and give them time to come forward, if they don’t come forward then we will process the documents to our head office in Accra for possible persecution”.

Addressing a cross section of the media at its headquarters in Accra, Coordinator of the special task force, Henry Sam, revealed that based on investigations by the Bureau of National Investigation, test purchases were undertaken on 42 businesses suspected of wrongdoing but only three were vindicated of any infractions.

The 39 culprits identified were guilty of one or more of the following infractions; selective issuance of VAT invoices, issuance of own invoices without approval, suppression of sales and under declaration of VAT and other taxes.

The lawbreakers would be arraigned before the court and charged with the following offences; failure to issue VAT invoices, failure to pay tax and failure to comply with the tax law.

The GRA stormed the premises of these businesses for added information to establish the extent to which their offences impacts on revenue loss.

Henry Sam appealed to the public to request for the VAT invoices on all taxable goods and services and also report any infractions they notice in the businesses around them.

He warned all businesses evading taxes that, “the long arm of the law will surely catchup with them.”

Meanwhile, GRA hinted that an amount of GHC128.6 million was collected from 164 taxpayers since the beginning of the year to August 11.

-Adnan Adams Mohammed