Dr. Joseph Obeng, President of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), has urged the government to catch e-commerce businesses in the 2020 mid-year budget review to send the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, to Parliament on Thursday 22 July.
Speaking to ABC News, Dr. Obeng said taxing e-commerce companies would produce enough revenue to bridge the shortfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He argued that so much money is being made from e-commerce, that if government reforms the entire taxation system with a special emphasis on digital taxes, given COVID-19 government will meet its estimated revenue target for 2020.
According to him, many people have now entered into the e-commerce sector in order to avoid paying taxes and fear that those in the physical trading businesses will soon lose their jobs if legislation and policies are not placed in place to curb the rising phenomenon.
Dr Obeng said, “There is now a increasing trend, e-commerce. It is growing in large proportions and if care is not taken it will encourage us, those of us who are doing physical trading because people are doing internet transactions and all that.
He claimed that for tax payments, the e-commerce players are not caught, adding that “they are simply left off the hook. A lot of people are going on e-commerce because of the affordability thing and they have the opportunity to get it at cheaper prices and all that and it’s because they’re not caught in the tax net and it also doesn’t ensure parity and it doesn’t even help government achieve its revenue target as well.
Dr. Obeng further indicated that he expects the government to amend the tax exemption scheme, because it does not carry company parity.
Although some pay valid taxes, he claims, some still hide under the tax exemption and misuse it.
He argues that tax exemption should be granted sparingly to specifically defined vulnerable sectors, as some companies enjoying tax exemption make tons of money while some taxpayers do not even make as much money.
Dr. Obeng lamented the situation that some large multinationals hide behind the curtain of foreign direct investment and enjoy massive tax exemptions while the tax burden continues to be borne by local companies, which earn much less money.
GUTA also wants the government to abolish the VAT threshold so that all companies can be identified and required to pay VAT to help the income collection of the country.