All is set for the Electronic Transactions Levy (E-Levy) to take off on Sunday, as scheduled.
The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the three charging entities – banks and specialised deposit-taking institutions (DFIs), electronic money issuers (EMIs) and telecommunications companies (telcos) – have put in place the relevant systems and mechanisms to start collecting 1.5 per cent as levy on daily electronic transfers.
This means that from Sunday, all electronic transfers that are done in a day and above GH¢100 will attract a 1.5 per cent per cent levy to be remitted to the GRA to support the government to fund development.
The Commissioner-General of the GRA, Rev. Dr Ammisshaddai Owusu-Amoah; the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Dr Kenneth Ashigbey, and the CEO of the Ghana Association of Bankers (GAB), John Awuah, told the Daily Graphic in separate interviews yesterday that they expected the implementation to be smooth.
They said the strategy for charging and the system for tracking transactions for the purposes of applying the levy had been piloted and found to be resilient and ready for actual implementation.
They added that the various exemptions granted in the E-Levy Act (2021), Act 1067, had also been programmed into the system and would be applied on take off.
The government and private sector leaders, however, said as was the case with new systems, a few hitches could be expected, but they were unanimous in assuring the public that staff of the four stakeholder institutions would be on hand to address all concerns for a successful implementation.
Dr Owusu-Amoah said the revenue target for the E-Levy had been revised downwards to GH¢4.5 billion from the initial GH¢6.9 billion, following the reduction in the rate from 1.75 to 1.5 per cent and the delay in the implementation.
He said the GRA also estimated that electronic transactions would slow down in the first days of the levy before picking up.
The levy was initially programmed to take off in February this year and would have covered all electronic transactions, including bank transfers.
The Commissioner-General expressed the hope that the public would support the authority to meet the new target.
He said a spirited public sensitisation exercise had been planned by the GRA and the ministries of Finance and Information to help educate the public on the rudiments of the tax and its importance to national development.
He said as part of efforts to make the implementation a success, the GRA had set up call centres and staffed them with trained people to attend to concerns from the public regarding the levy.
He said numbers to the centres would be sent out as part of a sensitisation programme around the implementation of the levy.
Dr Owusu-Amoah appealed to the public to support the authority to make the implementation a success.
“I want to encourage the public that we will continue to review the implementation and also be very vigilant. If they have issues, they should use the call centres,” he said.
Salaries, offerings exempted
He said it was not true that employers who used bank-to-bank transfers to pay the salaries of their employees would be affected by the levy.
He said the levy exempted bank-to-bank transfers and the system being used to implement it was programmed to do same.
He, however, explained that employers who transferred salaries from bank accounts to the mobile money accounts of their employees would be affected, but noted that it was not the salary that would be taxed.
“The deduction is not from the receiver but the sender. It is true that the corporation is incurring an additional cost, but that cost is allowable for tax deduction when the institution is computing its profit-and-loss account at the end of the year.
“So it is not correct that any person who receives his/her salary through mobile money will now get his/her salary less 1.5 per cent when the levy starts,” he said.
On tithes and offertory to churches and mosques, the Commissioner-General said the money sent would be levied, but the sender would incur the 1.5 per cent charge for using the convenience provided by mobile money.
“We are not taxing what is going to the church or mosque. As for the church or mosque, it is the same tithe, offering or zakat that they will receive, just that the sender now pays the charge for using the service,” Dr Owusu-Amoah said.
He added that other exemptions included merchant service providers who had registered with the GRA as value added tax (VAT) and income tax collectors.
Dr Ashigbey said the telcos were prepared to start the implementation, having put in place the needed systems and mechanisms.
He said his outfit had held various discussions with the GRA and other stakeholders to chart a path towards the successful implementation of the levy.
“So come May 1, we will roll, but as we start, we may experience some challenges because it is new and as we go along, we hope to perfect the system,” he said.
For his part, Mr Awuah said banks were well placed to effect the levy on both inter- and intra-bank transfers involving person-to-person bank transfers within the threshold approved by the law.
“The difficulty will be that until all charging entities are plugged into the GRA common platform, it may be difficult to establish an aggregate threshold for person-to-person bank transfers,” he added.
The CEO of the GAB said banks were at varying stages of integrating their information technology infrastructure for the implementation.
Mr Awuah, however, gave an assurance that in the event that the integration remained incomplete, banks were prepared to implement the levy from May 1, although some banks might not be on the GRA common platform at takeoff.