Ghana’s first-ever independent Tax Appeals Board has been inaugurated after 2 years and a few months of its establishment under the Revenue Administration (Amendment) Act, 2020.
The inauguration of this Board brings relief to many, especially as the previous system of objection to tax assessments required a person aggrieved by the decision of the Commissioner-General to a tax objection to resort to litigation.
For the government, the establishment and inauguration of the Appeals Board has put an end to long and convoluted tax litigation which locks up potential government revenue and frustrate the Ghana Revenue Authority, over minor issues. It is also a key part of the government’s initiatives to transform revenue administration and enhance revenue mobilization.
For the average taxpayer in society, this is another step in challenging an objection decision from the Commissioner-General which is not as formal or as time-wasting, or as expensive as litigation in court. The Appeals Board will serve as an effective ADR mechanism that is available to taxpayers who seek to appeal a tax decision given by the Commissioner-General.
The inauguration of the Appeals Board is even more welcome in this regard, considering the burden on our court system in Ghana. There is a huge backlog of cases in Ghana’s court system with some cases lasting longer than 10 -15 years. It is not an attractive option for a person aggrieved by an objection decision of the Commissioner-General to take the matter to court for it to potentially last so long. Neither is this an attractive option for the GRA, seeking to recover the taxpayer’s money as quickly as possible.
The Appeals Board is made up of 10 persons per the Revenue Administration (Amendment) Act, chaired by one of their numbers who is a retired Court of Appeal Judge; Justice Lawrence Mensah. Justice Mensah has assured Ghanaians that the members of the Appeals Board will focus on providing an efficient and effective forum for dispute resolution. It is our firm hope that this assurance is kept.
Author; Yorm Ama Abledu, Senior International Attorney, Centurion Law Group, Ghana Office.