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Non-VAT registered importers to pay 12.5% upfront


The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) will start the imposition of an upfront 12.5 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) on the customs value of taxable goods at all ports of entry with effect from Tuesday, June 6, this year.

The development will affect importers of taxable goods who are not registered to charge VAT.

It is applicable to taxable goods imported into the country for home consumption, taxable uncustomed goods forfeited and auctioned and taxable goods on transfer from bonded facilities.

It means importers of taxable goods who are not registered with the authority for tax will pay the upfront VAT in addition to the import duties and other taxes on the total value of the goods imported.

It follows the amendment of the VAT Act, 2013 (Act 870) which imposed the upfront payment of VAT by unregistered importers as an administrative measure to enhance the performance of VAT.

These came to light when the GRA engaged media practitioners on the implementation of the 12.5 per cent upfront payment in Accra last Thursday.

Not a new tax

The Commissioner of the Domestic Tax Revenue Division of the GRA, Edward Gyambrah, explained that the move was “a compliance tool and not a new tax”.

He stated that all those who were tax compliant would not be affected.

Ahead of the implementation of the amended law, the Commissioner said the GRA had engaged various stakeholders, including the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), the Institute of Freight Forwarders and the Custom Brokers Association of Ghana, among others.

Gyambrah further stated that the law which was passed in 2020 was aimed at ensuring parity in the pricing of goods on the market to ensure fairness, as VAT registered taxpayers charged the tax on their imported goods on the domestic front.

He said it would help identify unregistered importers of taxable goods who did not charge VAT on their domestic supplies and ensure tax compliance as importers of taxable goods were required to register with the GRA and file their tax returns as well as make it easy to identify non-compliant taxpayers.


Gyambrah noted that the VAT paid upfront could be recovered when the importer finally registered with the GRA, filed tax returns and paid all taxes due the state.

The Commissioner of Domestic Tax Revenue said the GRA was embarking on various initiatives to meet its annual revenue target of GHC106 billion for the 2023 fiscal year.

Listing some of the policies aimed at helping the authority to meet its revenue target, he mentioned the amended tax laws such as the income tax, excise duty tax and the growth and sustainability levy.

Gyambrah said aside from the upfront VAT imposition, other initiatives to ensure tax compliance included e-VAT invigilation and mystery shopping.

He said the tax net had been widened also to cover the gaming, betting and lottery industry and the night economy.



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