A special tax court is expected to be established in the coming days to deal with the prosecution of tax cases as part of the prosecution policy of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
A letter from Chief Justice Anin Yeboah to the Ghana Bar Association said the tax court will be located at the criminal division of the Court of Appeal within the Supreme Court building.
“The effective date of commencement will be communicated to you in due course. Kindly bring this notice to the attention of members of the Bar,” the letter stated.
Taxpayers are required to meet their tax obligations as prescribed by law and where they fail to do so, the GRA has the power to use a range of compliance improvement measures, including prosecution.
GRA has expressed its commitment to instituting tougher sanctions against persons who engage in tax fraud and evasion and has assured this will be achieved not only through audits and investigations but also through prosecution of offenders under its prosecution policy.
The GRA Legal Affairs & Treaties Department acts as the controlling office for all matters related to the prosecution of tax offenders within GRA.
In the past, tax cases have been prosecuted at the circuit courts.
Tax evasion is a crime against the state and the GRA has declared its intention to prosecute tax defaulters in 2021.
In the 2019 budget statement, the Minister for Finance, stated at Paragraph 291 and 292 of the Budget that, “Mr. Speaker, tax evasion is a crime. Deliberate undervaluation of import values, the ex-warehousing of imports from the bonded warehouses without prior payment of customs taxes, the suppression of sales, the non-issuance of VAT receipts for registered VAT businesses, the diversions of goods cleared as transit goods into the domestic market, and many other irregularities are all crimes perpetuated by criminals.
“In 2019, we will treat these offences for what they really are: crimes that must be prosecuted. In respect of tax debt recovery, we have already prepared files to enable us bring legal action against big tax payers. We will use various distress actions both sequentially and concurrently to retrieve tax liabilities from tax payers who have a habit of defaulting on their tax obligations. Mr. Speaker, in this there will be no sacred cows”.
The GRA has been given many powers under the Revenue Administration Act, 2016 (Act 915) to prosecute persons for non-compliance. Negligent, unreasonable, deliberate, and fraudulent actions on the part of the taxpayers which results in under payment of taxes are criminalised in the tax laws.