Following a public hearing of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, the Commissioner-General to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Mr. Emmanuel Kofi Nti, has hinted that taxpayers who issue dishonoured cheques to the authority will soon be arraigned before court for prosecution.
Mr. Nti explained that preparations are underway to publish a list of taxpayers who have issued dishonoured cheques to the Authority.
He cautioned taxpayers to desist from issuing dud checques, and any taxpayer found culpable will be swiftly dealt with according to the law.
In providing answers to the committee, Mr. Nti further disclosed that the current system of the Authority blacklists all taxpayers who present dishonoured cheques.
He added that all taxpayers blacklisted would be forced to pay their tax in cash and the appropriate sanctions for dishonoured cheques would be applied.
Statutory Basis For Prosecuting Issuers Of Dishonoured Cheques
Section 313 of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960, Act 29 provides that “any person who;
(a) without reasonable excuse proof of which shall be on him issues any cheques drawn on any bank with which he has no account; or
(b) issues any cheque in respect of any account with any bank when he has no reasonable ground (proof of which shall be on him) to believe that there are funds or adequate funds in the account to pay the amount specified on the cheque within the normal course of banking business; or
(c) with intent to defraud stops or countermands any cheque previously issued by him, shall be guilty of an offence and liable on first offence to a fine not exceeding 250 penalty units or to a term of imprisonment; not exceeding 12 months or to both the fine and the imprisonment, and in the case of a subsequent criminal offence to a fine not exceeding 1,000 penalty units or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years.
The Auditor-General’s Report on Dishonoured Cheques.
According to the Auditor-General’s Report, in paragraph 138 on page 45, review of the Returned Cheques Register revealed that 124 taxpayers, who issued cheques, totalling GH533,596, €825 and US$4,762 for settlement of their taxes were dishonoured by their respective banks due to lack of proper mandate or inadequate funds.
The report suggested that the management of GRA must make sure taxpayers with outstanding tax pay all their debts.
The Auditor-General again suggested that management should only accept banker’s draft from the defaulters.
Meanwhile, Section 143 (1) of the Internal Revenue Amendment Act 2004 (Act 669) stipulates that “a person who fails to pay tax, including an amount treated by this Act as if it were tax, on or before the due date for payment is liable in a case where the failure period exceeding three months to pay a penalty equal to 20% of the tax payable in addition to the tax unpaid”.