The proposed tax reforms put forth by Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia aim to bring about substantial changes, including the elimination of the e-levy, emissions tax, and other levies.
These reforms are designed not only to boost government revenue but also to propel the nation towards a cashless society, contingent upon his election as President.
During a presentation of his government’s policy statement and priorities in Accra on Wednesday, February 7, 2024, Dr Bawumia stressed the significance of abolishing the e-levy tax, commonly known as the tax on mobile money transactions.
This move aligns with the administration’s vision of fostering digital financial transactions and reducing reliance on traditional forms of payment.
Expressing concerns about substantial revenue losses estimated at $24 billion or 13% of GDP due to widespread non-compliance and businesses operating outside the tax system, Dr Bawumia outlined a comprehensive reform agenda.
This agenda includes the removal of taxes such as the emissions tax and the tax on betting to streamline the tax regime and enhance overall revenue generation.
Critiquing the existing tax system dating back to independence, Dr Bawumia remarked, “The current tax system has proven ineffective, overly complex, and burdensome for individuals and businesses, leading to widespread non-compliance and evasion.”
He emphasized the need to modernize and reorient the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to broaden the tax base.
Addressing the delicate balance between revenue collection and supporting business growth, Dr Bawumia highlighted the challenges faced by GRA staff in monitoring existing taxpayers and the adverse effects of excessive audits on business operations.
He stated, “We estimate that approximately 13% of GDP or $24 billion in revenue was not collected in 2023 due to non-compliance,” underscoring the potential significant impact on public finances.
In a bid to encourage tax compliance, Dr Bawumia proposed incentives for filing tax returns, extending this initiative to individuals with zero tax liability.
This move is part of broader efforts to cultivate a culture of tax compliance and accountability among citizens.
Additionally, Dr Bawumia pledged to eliminate the proposed 15% VAT on electricity tariffs by January 2025, showcasing his commitment to alleviating the tax burden on Ghanaians.
He asserted, “The policies I am proposing in 2025 will provide the fiscal space to eliminate some taxes, such as the VAT on electricity (if still on the books), the emissions tax, and the betting tax, without compromising our deficit target,” highlighting the government’s fiscal responsibility in the face of these reforms.