“You don’t pay taxes – they take taxes” – Chris Rock.
The Parliament of Ghana on the night of 31st March 2023 passed the Growth & Sustainability Levy bill, into law replacing the National Fiscal Stabilisation Levy Act, 2013 (Act 862). Many Ghanaians woke up to the news on April Fools’ Day. In fact, three new tax laws were passed that very night by Parliament.
The object of the Growth & Sustainability Levy Act 2023 (ACT 1095) is to raise revenue for the growth and fiscal sustainability of the economy and the Levy is payable in respect of profits before tax or production for the 2023 to 2025 years of tax assessment. It is worth noting that the levy is subject to review by the finance minister in 2025.
The government has estimated revenue of approximately Two billion, Two hundred and Sixteen Million Ghana Cedis (GHc2,216,000.00) from the levy for the year 2023 alone.
The COVID-19 pandemic as well as the Russia-Ukraine war led to a significant reduction in revenues and increased the government’s expenditure enormously. This resulted in unprecedented global crises, depreciation in currencies, and impacted living conditions.
The government by way of maximizing revenue for a sustainable economy has imposed numerous tax policies since the year 2021 and the latest addition being the Growth and Sustainability Levy Act of 2023 replacing the National Fiscal Stabilization Levy (NFSL) Act. The NFSL was a special levy on specified companies and institutions to raise revenue for fiscal stabilization of the economy and to provide for related matters.
Other additional tax laws passed by Parliament include the Excise Duty (Amendment) Act, which will impose a 20 percent tax on cigarettes and e-smoking devices, beverages, spirits, and wines, which is projected to rake in about GH¢400 million annually, and the Income Tax (Amendment) Act, 2023, which will also generate about GH¢1.2 billion.
The government insists these three new tax laws are essential to its quest to secure the $3 billion bailout it is seeking from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The Growth and Sustainability Levy Act in focus
The Act imposes a Growth and Sustainability Levy of the percentage of the profit before tax or the gross production of certain companies and institutions specified in the Schedule to the Act.
It imposes a Five percent (5%) of profit before tax levy rate on institutions under Category A including Banks, Non-Bank Financial Institutions, Insurance Companies, Telecommunication companies, Breweries, Oil Marketing Companies, Shipping Companies, and Electronic Money Issuers.
Category B institutions such as Mining Companies and Upstream oil and gas companies are to be charged One Percent (1%) of the gross production as tax.
Lastly, all other companies outside the two stated categories are to pay a levy of Two points Five Percent (2.5%) of their Profit before tax.
It is to be however noted that, the Levy payable under this Act is not an allowable deduction for the purpose of ascertaining the chargeable income of a person (natural or artificial) under the Income Tax Act, 2015. Profit taxes or other similar taxes are not deductible in determining the taxable income of corporate institutions.
The levy assessed for a year of assessment is payable quarterly and is due on the last day of the third, sixth, ninth, and twelfth months of a calendar year.
The levy is to be collected by the Ghana Revenue Authority and paid into the Consolidated Fund per section 8 of the Act.
The Minister for Finance is empowered by the Act to make regulations to amend the schedule to the Act to revise the rate of the levy, categories of companies liable to pay and the companies liable to pay the levy.
Why are there taxes? The straightforward response is that, until someone comes up with a better solution, taxing is the only realistic way to raise money to pay for government expenditure on the products and services that the majority of us need.
A fine is a tax for doing something wrong but a tax is a fine for doing something right. Finding creative ways to create income and foster growth will continue to be a primary goal of the government as the nation navigates these difficult times.
Imposing new taxes like the Growth and Sustainability Levy may impact the economy favorably or unfavorably. While it may bring in much-needed revenue for the government to fill budget gaps and satisfy requirements for loans or bailouts, it can also burden businesses and possibly cause their collapse.