THE IMPACT OF TAX REFORMS ON INVESTMENT DECISIONS IN GHANA
Governments need to put in more effort in attracting investors into their country through tax reforms if it wants to achieve economic growth and enhance standards of living. The research considered certain variables that affect investor’s decision as to where to invest. These included the location, type of activity and time variables, which were very important due to the fact that, the laws pertaining to each one of them concerning the tax rate to be paid, incentives, exemptions, relief and holidays to be enjoyed varies.
The data for the research were obtained from both primary and secondary data. To obtain first hand information on whether investors in the country did consider the tax system in their investment decision, the study used questionnaires and interviews. The researcher designed 22 questions for the taxpayers and was distributed to 30 companies and individuals.
In the research, it was discovered that tax laws influences investment and location decision and for that matter a very important tool in attracting investors into the country. Again, the tax incentive that has the greatest impact on investment was also the reduction of corporate tax rate. However, certain constraint such as the level of interest rate and uncertainty about the economy were also discovered.
The researcher recommended that there was the need for reforms of the general tax system by creating efficiency and transparency in tax collection and elimination of unnecessary taxes and levies, which adds unnecessary costs to transactions.
KEY WORDS: TAX REFORMS, INVESTMENT DECISIONS, INCENTIVES, TAX SYSTEM, TAX RELIEF, INTEREST RATE.
Every government and most especially those in the developing economies are concerned about the economic growth of their nation. As a result, they put in much effort to achieve higher rate of economic growth and raise the standard of living of its citizens.
The critical issue has been how to attract investors and generate the needed resources domestically using tax instruments that are least harmful to both the government and the investors. This will obviously involve reforming the tax system to ensure efficiency by widening the tax net without necessarily increasing the tax rate.
Governments continue to encourage foreign investment as an integral part of its economic policy. Ghana embarked on a privatization program in the early 1990s. The government at one point controlled more than 350 state-owned enterprises but nearly 300 were privatized by the end of 2000 and as at December 31st 2005, 351 had been privatized leaving just a handful of state-owned enterprises. For example, the government’s, stated priority privatization in the 2007 budget included Ghana Telecom, Western Wireless (Westel), Tema Oil Refinery, Ghana Oil Company and State Insurance Company. They also pursued privatization through selling of State-owned shares on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE).
The government recognizes attracting foreign direct investment requires an enabling legal environment and has passed laws that encourage foreign investment and repeated some that has previously stifled it. In the United States for example, there was a decline in investment some years ago. In order to stimulate investment, a new tax Act was introduced in 2002 and 2003. This helped the economy to regain its stand by the late 2003, investment returned to its pre-recession trend and the economy expanded at a healthy rate of 3.9% and despite the dislocations that was as a result of the hurricanes and steep rise in energy prices, registered 3.2%. A research conducted in United States by a Joint Economic Committee presented a case that, “lowering the cost of capital through tax legislation can be both timely and effective in stimulating economic growth”.
Governments need to put in more effort in attracting investors into their country through tax reforms if it wants to achieve economic growth and enhance standards of living.
The most important source of government revenue is from tax. According to the 2006 budget, the government introduced some tax incentives for venture capital investment and reduced tax rate on personal and corporate income in order to strengthen the private sector and enhance the disposable income of householders. Tax rate for companies in categories A and B were lowered, and rate for other categories were abolished with regard to the National Reconstruction Levy.
Various studies have shown that changes in the tax system have great impact in investment decisions. Feldstein (1982) observed that “adverse changes in the tax variables since 1965 have depressed investment by more than 40%” Hassett and Hubbard “recent empirical studies appear to have reached a consensus that the elasticity of investment with respect to the tax-adjusted user cost of capital is between -0.5 and -1.0” Hassett and Hubbard cited other studies that concluded that tax over the last forty years have had a large effect on investment. A research by House and Shapiro showed that temporary investment tax incentives did stimulate investment.
1.1 BACKGROUND STUDY
In my study, I will consider certain variables that affect investor’s decision as to where to invest. These, which include the location, type of activity and time variables, are very important because the tax laws pertaining to each one of them concerning the tax rate to be paid, incentives, exemptions, relief and holidays to be enjoyed varies.
Due to these continuous changes in the tax law, there is the need for such information to be publicized since it goes a long way to determine the growth of the economy, divert resources to a particular sector of the economy and also protect the local industries, at the same time attracting foreign investors.
This is what Ghana has embarked on in recent times and my study will try to analyze the budget from January 2010 to April 2012 and see the various attempts by the government to generate more revenue by attracting investors into the country.
Analyses of the budget in recent times had indicated that the government continually decreases the tax rate to widen the tax net. Even though in terms of tax revenue composition, our main source of revenue is derived from indirect taxes (VAT especially), these are indirect taxes paid by consumers on some goods and services to the state through registered individuals or businesses. It has been realized that revenue from direct taxes continues to rise. In 2010, it constituted 38.71% of total tax revenue and increased to 42.84% in 2011 and this can be attributed to the persistent reduction of the corporate tax rate by the government as part of its efforts to improve the environment for private sector businesses.
These few changes and many others that have not been mentioned here brought to the fore the need to observe how decision on where to invest, what to invest in and when to invest changes as the tax system pertaining to these changes. These are serious issues which must be considered because the transition of developing countries into developed countries depend largely on the extent to which people invest their resources to promote economic growth.
1.1. 1 ORGANIZATIONAL PROFILE
The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) under the ministry of finance and economic planning of the republic of Ghana is a public service organization charged with direct tax administration.
GRA as a revenue agency is very strategic in the achievement of national goals. It has therefore embarked on a mission of improving the quality of service delivery to taxpayers and the general public through simplifying processes and clarifies rules and procedures. It has set up time frames for prompt completion of tasks in order to render them more transparent to the public. The main objective of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) is to create a customer oriented revenue collection organization focused on quality service to enhance voluntary tax compliance.
The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) is assisted in its endeavor at improved quality service delivered by the ministry of public sector reform.
The Vision of the GRA is to be an effective Tax Administration Agency that applies the tax laws fairly, efficiently and with integrity in order to collect revenue for National Development.
The Mission of the GRA is to optimize tax revenue through the fair application of tax laws, to promote voluntary compliance through improved customer service and taxpayer education, and to effectively and efficiently administer the tax laws through well-trained and motivated staff.
The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has five (5) main Departments. These are:-
2. Research, Planning and Monitoring
5. Legal Services
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In every thriving economy, investors’ main aim is to invest scarce resources to yield maximum returns on them. The government also needs to cater for its expenditure and development of the country.
It has therefore become necessary to generate the needed resources from domestic economy using tax instruments that are least harmful to both the investor and the government
In Ghana, there have been several policies to attract investors into the country but it is not clear whether investors utilize these policies which have been put in place to benefit both the Government and investors in all.
It is in light of this, that this research tries to investigate into the following issues:
(i) How the changes in the tax system affects investment decision in the country.
(ii) Whether tax reliefs, incentives, exemptions and holidays have an impact on investment decisions on a particular location.
1.3 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
(i) To find out the extent to which the various tax reforms affect investment decision in the country.
(ii) To evaluate the various tax reforms in the formal sector over the past few years.
(iii) To explore the impact of corporate tax on firm location decision in Ghana.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
i. What are the rationales behind or the reasons for tax reforms?
ii. What are the problems of tax reforms?
iii. What are some of the tax incentives used in attracting foreign direct investment?
iv. Should tax rate concepts be used to examine the effect of tax reform on investment?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study will be useful in the following ways:
Firstly is that, it will educate prospective investors on the best alternative business to invest in, based on the tax law for that particular sector.
Secondly, it will also encourage existing investors to expand their investments to other sectors of the economy as well.
Furthermore, it will also enlighten investors to the various tax incentives, reliefs, exemptions and holidays available to and how they can take advantage of them.
Moreover, it will help individuals to also understand how investors react to changes in the tax system and how it affects the economy both negatively and positively.
And fifthly, the study will add more value to existing literature since it will be updated with current issues and rates in the various sectors of the economy.
And lastly, in Ghana, it is a requirement for the attainment of a Bachelor of Science degree. It is also a requirement of All Nations University for a degree program.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study is to assess the changing structure of the tax system in Ghana from January 2010 to April 2012 and suggest ways to improve the tax administration in the country to bridge the gap between public expenditure and domestic revenue.
Abdallah (2006) Taxation in Ghana defines taxation as the levying of compulsory contributions by public authorities having tax jurisdiction to defray the cost of their activities. It can also be seen as a means by which government implement decision to transfer resources from the private to the public sector.
Various types of tax can be grouped into Direct or Indirect. Direct Tax include: Income tax, capital gains tax, gift tax and corporate tax. Indirect Tax includes Excise duty, Custom duty and Value Added Tax (VAT). They are called indirect because the Administering authorities, the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service and the VAT Services do not collect taxes from consumers but do so indirectly through importers, manufactures and other intermediaries.
Reilly and Norton, Investments (2003), 6th edition defines investment as the current commitment of resources for a period of time in the expectation of receiving future resources that will compensate the investor for:
(i) The time the resources are committed
(ii) The expected rate of inflation
(iii) The risk, that is uncertainty of the future payments
Internal Revenue Act (2000), Section 94 defines investment as a manner in which a person may derive gains, profits or income other than from a business or employment.
Details of this will be given in chapter two.
1.7 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
During the study, the researcher encountered certain limitations such as time constraint. This did not permit the researcher to expand his population base and to make certain enquires into areas that could have been useful to the study.
There was difficulty in having access to certain information due to the fact that sufficient records were not available.
And lastly, target respondents may not be willing to provide adequate and prompt feedback of questionnaires.
This study took the form of cross sectional studies employing the survey strategy. This will enable me to collect large sample of data from a sizeable population in a highly economical way and allow for easy comparison. The researcher used purposive sampling technique in selecting his sample size of 30 respondents. My case study will be the staff and management of The Ghana Revenue Authority, koforidua Branch.
Source of data:
Primary source data will be collected through structured interviews and questionnaires. Secondary source of data will also collected from journals, books, academic or scholarly articles, government publications reports and articles from the internet.
1.9 CHAPTER SCHEME
This study will be organized in the form of five chapters:
Chapter one deals with introduction, problem statement, objectives significance, methodology limitation and scope of the study.
Chapter Two will deal with a discussion of the trends and reforms of the tax system.
Chapter Three will analyze data collected.
Chapter Four will look at the impact of changes in the tax system on investment decision in Ghana.
Chapter Five will deal with findings, recommendations and conclusions.