Six business operators, including two Chinese nationals, have been apprehended in Accra for their failure to provide Value Added Tax (VAT) invoices to customers.
The arrested individuals were associated with Computer Land Ghana Limited, Hiang Vegetables and Fruits Chinese Supermarket, Emelijo Enterprise, U-Fresh Company Limited, Sulas Enterprise, and Mahalia Kollection, all located in different areas of Accra.
These businesses were among a total of 115 establishments that were investigated in an undercover operation, during which it was discovered that 93 of them were not issuing VAT invoices to customers.
The undercover investigations, commonly referred to as mystery shopping or text purchase, revealed the illegal practices.
Failing to issue a VAT invoice to customers is an offence for registered tax-paying businesses.
The arrests were carried out by the VAT investigation task force of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) as part of a VAT enforcement exercise.
While most of the exercise proceeded smoothly, the GRA team encountered difficulties at Hiang Vegetables and Fruits Chinese Supermarket, where the managers refused to cooperate and provide the required records or documents to prove their tax compliance.
After unsuccessful attempts to obtain cooperation, the team decided to lock up the shop and seal off the premises.
At U-Fresh Company Limited, the Chinese employers were reportedly absent during the visit, and one of the Chinese individuals was eventually picked up by the task force, leaving an invitation notice for the owners of the company.
Joseph Annan, the Manager of the Accra Central Enforcement Unit of GRA, who led the enforcement exercise, stated that the arrested individuals would be handed over to the police for investigation and subsequent charges.
The focus of yesterday's exercise was on 15 out of the 93 identified companies, and in the coming weeks, the authority plans to target businesses that have not been issuing certified VAT invoices to customers at the point of sale.
Mr Annan noted that the records of the two Chinese companies were primarily in the Chinese language, and the authority would have them translated at the companies' expense.
He emphasized the importance of businesses registered for VAT to consistently issue VAT invoices as required by law to avoid penalties and legal action.
The GRA's enforcement efforts are aimed at ensuring compliance with VAT invoice issuance, and Mr Annan urged the public to demand VAT invoices when making purchases in order to support the government's revenue generation for development purposes.
Since the start of the exercise on May 16, several managers of businesses have been arrested and are currently under investigation pending prosecution.
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