Six business operators, including two Chinese, have been arrested in Accra for failing to issue Value Added Tax (VAT) invoices to customers.
Although the identities of the arrested persons were not disclosed, their businesses were given as Computer Land Ghana Limited, dealers in computers and accessories, and Hiang Vegetables and Fruits Chinese Supermarket, both at Osu; Emelijo Enterprise, a shop that sells disposables at La Wireless; U-Fresh Company Limited, a beverages manufacturing company owned by some Chinese, and Sulas Enterprise, dealers in power generating sets and construction machinery and Mahalia Kollection, a clothing shop, all at Spintex.
They are part of 93 businesses out of 115 found not to be issuing VAT invoices to customers who patronise their services.
The businesses illegalities were discovered through undercover investigations known as mystery shopping or text purchase, after the team visited 115 companies in a week of undercover exercises.
It is an offence for a registered tax paying business to fail to issue VAT invoice to customers who patronise their services.
They were arrested by the VAT investigation taskforce of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) during a VAT enforcement exercise yesterday.
Although the exercise was smooth, the taskforce had a tough time when they visited the Hiang Vegetables and Fruits Chinese Supermarket, as the managers of the place would not cooperate with the GRA team.
Although they claimed they were tax compliant, they could not show the team any records or documents to confirm their claim.
After a prolonged back and forth, the team locked up the shop and sealed off the place with a tape and a padlock.
At the U-Fresh Company Limited, the Ghanaian workers claimed their Chinese employers had gone out for lunch but after a long wait, the team picked up one of the Chinese and left an invitation notice for the owners of the company.
The Manager of the Accra Central Enforcement Unit of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Joseph Annan, who led the team for the exercise, said the arrested persons would be handed over to the police, investigated and charged for their actions.
Yesterday’s exercise was targeted at 15 out of 93 identified companies as the authority in the weeks ahead was going after businesses that had failed to issue certified VAT invoices at the point of sale at their outlets to their customers.
Mr Annan said the two Chinese companies had most of their records in the Chinese language and “we will get it translated at their cost”.
He urged businesses registered for VAT to issue the VAT invoice at all times as required by law to avoid facing sanctions and prosecution.
“We are 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 said.
Mr Annan further advised the public to demand the VAT invoice whenever they made purchases to support the government’s efforts to raise revenue for development purposes.
The exercise, which started on May 16 this year, has so far resulted in the arrest of some managers of businesses who are currently under investigation pending prosecution.