A Former Deputy Finance Minister and Ranking Member of the Finance Committee in Ghana’s Parliament, Dr. Cassel Ato Forson (MP), has urged the government to consider taxing fees on electronic transactions instead of the proposed tax on the transactions themselves.
In the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy presented to Parliament by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, the government among other things, proposed a 1.75 percent tax on all electronic transactions, "Electronic Transaction Levy" or "E-Levy", effective January 1, 2022, in an attempt to widen the tax net and rope in the informal sector.
The E-Levy covers mobile money payments, bank transfers, merchant payments, and inward remittances. These charges, according to the finance minister, shall be borne by the sender, with the exception of the inward remittances, which shall remain the recipient’s burden.
Reacting to the proposed tax on the Accra-based Joy TV, Dr. Ato Forson opined that the policy will militate against the cashlite transactions regime that successive governments have attempted to encourage and promote.
He noted that, for example, employers will also be liable to pay the 1.75 percent tax if they pay their employees’ salaries and wages via bank transfers. This, he believes, may encourage some employers to pay their employees with cash, which in essence will defeat the country’s efforts to move to digital transactions.
"The electronic transaction tax is not a tax that should be entertain. Successive governments dating back from Jerry Rawlings to President Nana Addo, all of us have tried as much as we can to make Ghana a cashless economy, that is something almost everyone want to do.
"The electronic transaction is going to affect the banking sector.
"If a bank does a bank transfer to a customer, that customer is going to incur a cost of 1.75%," says the MP.
Hon. Forson indicated many countries tax on banks charge from those transactions and suggested that same ought to have been the government’s approach in order not to burden the transferrer to discourage digital payment.
"I am not aware of any country in this world that taxes bank transfer not even the fee but the transaction itself.
"What other countries do in a situation like that is to tax the fees that the banks are collecting, that is the best practice not on the transaction. I have seen so many examples across the world," he added.
According to Minister Ofori-Atta, up to 0.25 percentage points of the 1.75 percent e-transaction levy (i.e., 16.7% of the yield from the levy) would be used to support road infrastructure development annually.
Meanwhile, daily electronic transactions with a cumulative value of GH100 or less per person will be exempted from the tax.
Source: Mohammed Bomanso Issah(Real Estate Times Africa)