The challenges of getting a Tax Clearance Certificate – My experience

You need a tax clearance certificate (TCC) for certain transactions.

And sometimes, you need it in a hurry!

We described some transactions you will need a tax clearance for, and the process for getting a tax clearance in our blog, “How to obtain a tax clearance certificate without any hassle.

I process a lot of applications for TCC. It should be a straightforward process, if you meet the requirements. Often, however, it can be a frustrating one.

My experience

Throughout my career, my experience is you will almost certainly meet delays when you apply for a tax clearance certificate.

Some common responses you’ll hear from GRA staff as you follow up on your application are:

  • “Have you filed all your tax returns to date?”
  • “We don’t have this document in our files.”
  • “You can come and check tomorrow.”
  • “Come back, another time.”
  • “We’ve sent it to another unit for processing.”
  • “My boss is not around and so there’s no-one to sign.”
  • “There is nothing I can do to help.”
  • “Pay an account before we can process your Tax Clearance.” This is the case for businesses registered under the Small Taxpayers Office (STO).
  • “File an Annual Estimate.” This happens when you apply for tax clearance at the start of the year. Medium Taxpayers Office and Large Taxpayers Office clients must file an annual estimate at the beginning of the year.

GRA promises that, if your affairs are in order, you will get a TCC within seventy-two (72) hours. It could take longer depending on GRA’s verification and approval processes.

What you can do to reduce the delay

Make sure you do the following nine things to speed up the processing of your tax clearance:

  1. During the year, make copies of all the returns you file.
  2. Assess all your taxes (i.e. Corporate Tax, PAYE, Personal Income Tax, Withholding Taxes, VAT) and determine if you have any tax liability to settle.
  3. Settle all liabilities and get receipts for all payments to GRA.
  4. Keep all your returns and receipts for the current year together.
  5. State the purpose of the TCC as this is a requirement. Not stating the purpose will delay processing the application.
  6. Attach proof of the purpose for which you require the TCC.
  7. File your application at least two weeks before the time you need it.
  8. Follow up often on the application. Make sure you keep a stamped copy of your application and copies of all returns. The application and the documents you provide can be lost.
  9. Always make sure you know the name of the person working on your file. At each follow-up, find out where your application is.

By following these tips, you will get your tax clearance certificate on time and with less stress.

GRA is Ghana Revenue Authority

Written by Peter Agbeehia

Peter is an associate in the tax unit of SCG Chartered Accountants.