Businesses that have been struggling as a result of the impact of the novel Coronavirus can appeal to government to amend the law that allows the payment of interest on deferred taxes.
That’s according to Tax Analyst, Dr. Abdallah Ali Nakyea.
Speaking on the topic, ‘Compliance in Abnormal Times’ on the third day of the on-air series of the Citi Business Festival, he said deferment of tax payment can be done, but does not clear one off the charge to be paid on a due date as established by law.
He explained that just as government has done for companies donating towards the National COVID-19 Trust Fund and also the approval of tax reliefs and exemptions for frontline health workers, “in similar fashion we may look at laws which need to be amended if even we can give the amendment a life span to the end of the year because experts are saying that the pandemic would be with us for the next two to three years.”
“Can we have laws amended to at least to the end of this year? So that by coming November, government would have seen which area would have a permanent amendment and which would have a temporary amendment,” he added.
In the wake of the COVID-10 pandemic, the Ghana Revenue Authority introduced some tax reliefs to ensure that taxpayers fulfill their tax obligations during the period.
But Dr. Ali Nakyea says the Ghana Revenue Authority has limited powers.
“What should go along with a deferment for me is the application for the waiver of interests and penalties. If you look at the help that the government has given through the GRA, that is, if you settle any outstanding liabilities on or before the end of June, the penalties would automatically be waived, but then what happens to the interest?” he asked.
“I think that, yes, they couldn’t touch it because under the law, the Commissioner-General has no power to waive or vary an interest, his power rests on waving or varying a penalty and he has exercised that.”
“…So, the business community may wish to appeal to government to look at the element of the interest so if you are getting a postponement they do it a lot to businesses even in normal times how much more in abnormal times,” he added.
Article 174 of the constitution vests the control of all public funds in Parliament. It notes that no tax as well as authorizing of a waiver or exemption or variation of taxes can be imposed without the authority of Parliament.
Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, has already stated that the country is recording a huge decline in revenue from the port, petroleum revenue receipts as well as tax revenue due to economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Government is also targeting a total revenue and grants for 2020 to reach 67.0 billion cedis, but the situation will lead to an increase in Ghana’s fiscal deficit.
The Finance Minister, has also said the COVID-19 fight could cost Ghana about 9.5 billion cedis.
This will take a toll on Ghana’s GDP growth, leading to an ultimate fiscal gap of 11.4 billion cedis.