Tax administrations around the world are engaged in building innovative digital solutions to meet 21st century challenges, and Ghana is no exception. The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) is making strides in technological infrastructure innovation with its gradual introduction of digital services. Accordingly, the GRA has deployed three new systems: a taxpayer portal, a portal for electronic invoicing for value-added tax (VAT) and a supply of electronic services VAT payment portal.

DIgital Services

The GRA taxpayer portal and app were officially launched in April 2022. These systems are mandatory for excise taxpayers and those with yearly revenue above GHS5m ($454,000), though all taxpayers are encouraged to use them. The portal provides numerous services for taxpayers, including the filing of tax returns and making tax payments. As these digital services are relatively new, their use is not yet widespread, though the tax authorities are taking steps to encourage their adoption. For example, GRA offices no longer generate tax clearance certificates; taxpayers must now generate the certificate using the portal.

Another technological advancement in the tax system is the introduction of the electronic tax invoice system. Phase one of the programme, which lasted from October 2022 to June 2023, included around 600 taxpayers. The second phase is expected to launch in December 2023, with full implementation projected for December 2024.

Tax Amendment

In September 2022 VAT Amendment 2023 (Act 1082) was applied to VAT Act 2023 (Act 870), which introduced electronic invoices or sales receipts from the Certified Invoicing System (CIS) as the only approved VAT invoices. Taxpayers were given until September 2023 to start issuing invoices from the CIS, or apply for an extension of up to three months from the commissioner-general of the GRA if they were unable to meet the deadline.

With VAT Amendment 2023 (Act 1087), the permitted default timeframe has been removed. This implies that, unless directed otherwise, all taxpayers are to comply with the issuance of invoices or sales receipts from the CIS. The invoicing system will be implemented in phases, starting with large taxpayers. Taxpayers will, however, need to take steps as soon as possible, including contacting the GRA, to ensure their systems are set up and ready to comply or apply for an extension to migrate to the CIS. Failure to comply with this amendment attracts a penalty of up to GHS50,000 ($4540) or triple the tax type that is involved, whichever is higher. This penalty is in addition to the penalty for failure to issue a tax invoice.

The GRA has also merged the Ghana Card Personal Identification Number (PIN) with the Tax Identification Number (TIN). Following this, all taxpayers are required to use their Ghana Card PIN on all returns and other documents that they file with the authorities. Non-citizens are required to use their non-citizen Ghana Card PIN as their TIN. The introduction of these numbers is in line with the country’s aim of ensuring that an individual’s government transactions are all identifiable with the same distinct identifier.

While the digitalisation of Ghana’s tax administration services is likely to bring numerous benefits, it also has the potential to pose various challenges, including data privacy concerns, and the need to ensure that all stakeholders have access to the necessary technology and skills. Nevertheless, as technology continues to evolve, it is clear that the digital transformation of the tax administration is here to stay, revolutionising the way that the GRA administers the relevant taxation laws and regulations.