LARGE TAXPAYER OFFICE (LTO)
The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has modernized all domestic tax procedures and processes for efficient use of resources and in line with best practice in tax administration. In modernising, GRA also seeks to provide improved taxpayer services that meet the specific needs of groups of taxpayers in Ghana.The reform process involved in segmenting domestic taxpayers into Large, Medium and Small taxpayers is based on their annual turnover and other criteria.
Taxpayers with an annual turnover of over GH₵5 million are classified as Large Taxpayers. This category also includes specialist industries irrespective of their turnover. Examples are upstream and midstream petroleum companies, banking institutions, insurance companies, mining companies except quarries, and members of groups of companies where at least one member qualifies as a large taxpayer. All LTO taxpayers are on the self-assessment regime. Taxpayers within the turnover bracket of GH¢90,000 up to GH¢5 million are categorized as medium taxpayers while those with an annual turnover of less than GH¢90,000 are classified as Small taxpayers.
This new approach to tax administration is based on functional lines rather than the previous tax-type basis of administration. Work processes have been developed on functions such as registration, returns processing, debt management and audit which are carried out in a typical domestic tax office.
WHAT IS LTO?
The Large Taxpayer Office (LTO) is a Department Under the Domestic Tax Revenue Division (DTRD) of the GRA. It operates as a specialized tax office focusing exclusively on total tax administration of Large taxpayers identified by the GRA. It also offers a ONE-STOP-SHOP for taxpayers with regard to all activities related to taxpayer obligations as well as the Tax Authority’s obligations to taxpayers. The office is headed by a deputy commissioner.
FUNCTION AND OPERATIONS
The LTO is organized along functional lines with the following operational functions:
- Taxpayer Services/Returns and Payments Processing
- Debt management, compliance monitoring and Enforcement
- Audits and objections
Taxpayer Services / Returns Payments Processing Unit:
The functions and duties of this Unit include assisting taxpayers with the necessary information and education to enable them to comply with all their obligations including non-tax obligations, interactions with taxpayers or group of taxpayers.
The Taxpayer Service Unit is the first point of enquiry, a point of coordination and a follow-up with other LTO units and undertake the following:
- Enquiries on all taxes
- Progress of assessments and refunds
- Requests for rulings and interpretations
- Changes in registration and Taxpayer Identification Number
- Enquiries n conduct of audits and enforcement actions
- Changes to tax legislation and compliance obligations
- Monitor payment and lodgement dates and provide personal reminders of pending obligations
- Assess the level of services provided to large taxpayers.
- Recommend improvements in service to support voluntary compliance
The Unit also ensures the processing of returns and payments as well as lodgement of revenue collected.
Compliance monitoring, Debt Management and Enforcement Unit:
This unit ensures taxpayer filing and payment through voluntary compliance. It applies the necessary penalties and interest to late payment and filing, processes tax credit certificates, tax clearance certificates and make recommendations to grating or otherwise of exemptions and other applications. The unit also ensures the management of tax arrears and enforce collection of overdue taxes through the use of legal compliance and enforcement tools including garnishments, seal offs and swoops.
Audits and Objetions Unit:
The audit units’ function is to improve taxpayer compliance through effective risk-based audit programmes, verification of taxpayer declarations through examination of books f accounts among others.
The compliance/risk-based audit programme is driven by the objective of ensuring completeness, accuracy and validity of taxpayer declarations and records. In the process of verifying correctness of taxpayer Self-Assessments, the unit may issue administrative/additional assessments to taxpayers.
OTHER SERVICES RENDERED AT THE LTO
The LTO seeks to secure tax revenue by:
Ensuring taxpayer compliance with return filling and payment obligation of large taxpayers. It facilitates taxpayer compliance through the following.
- Vetting of taxpayer returns and payment cheques.
- Processing of taxpayer returns
- Receiving of various taxpayer documents for appropriate action.
- Handling of all taxpayers’ enquiries, requests and complaints
- Continuous provision of information and advice to taxpayers to assist them in the discharge of various tax obligations.
- Focused education on taxpayers
- Complex taxpayers who have difficult taxation issues, receive consistent and high-quality messages about their taxation obligation.
The office also discharges the tax administration’s legal as well as discretionary obligation within its mandate towards the taxpayers. These include consideration of and processing of the following:
- Exemption applications
- Tax Clearance Certificate applications
- Tax credits pressing
- Consideration and recommendation to the Commissioner General regarding request for waivers
- Dialogue with taxpayer bodies on the way forward with tax administration in the country
CATEGORIES OF TAXPAYERS AND OBLIGATIONS
The LTO taxpayers consist mainly of the following:
- Taxpayers with annual turnover of less than GH₵5 million
- All mining/petroleum and financial institutions
- Subsidiary companies of companies in above-mentioned categories and other taxpayers identified by the Commissioner-General
- Taxpayers with complex tax issues that need expertise
The LTO taxpayers contribute approximately 70% of total Domestic Tax Revenue Division (DTRD) tax revenue.
OBLIGATIONS OF LARGE TAXPAYERS
Taxpayer obligations include but are not limited to:
- Filing and payment of taxes on due dates
- Maintenance of proper records
- Making records available for auditing, etc.