Operators of eight cold stores at the Takyi Yard Cold Stores Enclave in Tema on Friday closed their stores and absconded before officials of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), undertaking a Value Added Tax (VAT) inspection exercise, arrived at the premises.
The VAT invigilation taskforce was in the area to conduct the exercise following an intel that the operators, although registered to issue VAT receipts, were not issuing to customers.
The very busy enclave, usually characterised by brisk business on Fridays, turned into a ghost town when news went round that the GRA taskforce was conducting a VAT invigilation exercise.
Earlier, the Taskforce locked up The Underbridge, a popular event centre at East Legon, Accra, for failing to register and issue VAT invoices to customers.
Also, the operators of Josnartey Ventures, Isaac Glavi Trading Enterprise, Perez Frozen Foods, all at Tema, were arrested and taken to the head office of the GRA to answer why they failed to issue VAT invoices to their customers.
Sales and receipt books belonging to the operators were also confiscated for VAT assessment.
Mr Joseph Annan, Area Enforcement Manager of Accra Central, GRA, who led the exercise, said the taskforce would review its invigilation strategy at areas where business operators absconded to ensure they all complied with the VAT provisions.
He said the arrested business operators would be investigated and charged for their actions.
Mr Annan stated that they would be assessed preemptively and investigated to pay the taxes lost before a full audit was undertaken to determine the full impact of their actions on other levies they were expected to pay.
He noted that they would then be prosecuted by the GRA legal unit for failing to comply with the tax law.
“Once VAT is under-declared, other taxes will be affected. The investigations will help to determine the impact of their actions so the expected sanctions are applied,” Mr Annan added.
He urged businesses registered for VAT to issue the VAT invoice at all times as required by law to avoid facing the sanctions and prosecutions.
“We are in town enforcing the issuance of VAT invoices. I urge all businesses to do the right thing as expected of them. We will continue the exercise until all businesses comply with the law,” he stated.
Mr Annan further advised the public to demand the VAT invoice whenever they make purchases to support government’s efforts to raise revenue.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS