Ghana - Income Tax

Ghana - Income Tax

Taxation of international executives

Related content

Tax returns and compliance

When are tax returns due? That is, what is the tax return due date?

It is the employer’s responsibility to file monthly tax returns on behalf of its employees.  The employer is required to withhold the employees’ taxes and pay to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).  The tax withheld must be filed and payment made by the 15th of the month following the month in which the tax is withheld.

Additionally, the employer shall, not later than 30 April following the end of every year of assessment, furnish a return with respect to each person employed by the employer who derives assessable income for the year from the employment.  The return is required to outline salaries paid to each employee, exemptions, tax reliefs, chargeable income, tax due and tax paid.

What is the tax year-end?

31 December

What are the compliance requirements for tax returns in Ghana? 

Residents and non-residents

Generally, the employer is required to compute the income tax on any employment income accrued or derived in Ghana by the assignees.  They are obliged to remit it to the GRA within the first 15 days of the ensuing month in which the payment was made.

At the year-end, the employer is required to prepare an annual reconciliation of the taxes withheld on monthly basis to determine whether there are any differences. Where there is a short fall, the employer is required to pay the difference within fifteen (15) days after the end of the year (that is on or before 15 January).

The employer shall also, not later than 30 April following the end of every year of assessment, furnish a return with respect to each person employed by the employer who derives assessable income for the year from the employment.

Failure for the employer to settle the balance due on the return by 15 January attract the following penalties:

  • 125% of statutory rate compounded monthly and applied to the amount outstanding at start of period. 

Residence rules

For the purposes of taxation, how is an individual defined as a resident of Ghana?

  • An individual is deemed resident for a year of assessment if that individual is a citizen of Ghana (other than one with a permanent residence outside Ghana for the whole year of assessment);
  • Present in Ghana for a period, or periods amounting in total to 183 days or more in any 12-month period that commences or ends during the year of assessment.
  •  An employee or official of the Ghana government on posting abroad.
  • A citizen who is temporarily absent from Ghana for not more than 365 continuous days (where the individual has a permanent home in Ghana).

Tax rates

What are the current income tax rates for residents and non-residents in Ghana?

 

Individual Income Tax Rate

Residents

Individuals who are tax resident are taxed at the graduated rates with 25% being the highest marginal bracket.  Below are the applicable graduated rates:

  Chargeable income (Annual) Rates
   (GHC)  
First 2,592
Free
Next 1,296
5%
Next 1,812
10%
Next 33,180
17.5%
Exceeding 38,880
25%

 

Non-Residents

The tax rate applicable on non-resident individuals is a flat rate of twenty percent (20%) on their chargeable income. 

Where the company provides the employee with accommodation, the employee is assessed to additional tax on the benefit-in-kind element as follows: 

Accommodation with furnishing
10% of the person’s total cash emoluments
Accommodation only
7.5% of the person’s total cash emoluments
Furnishing only 
2.5% of the person’s total cash emoluments
Shared accommodation
2.5% of the person’s total cash emoluments

 

Bonus up to a maximum of 15 percent of qualifying employment income or maximum of GHC1,620 (whichever is lower) is taxed at 5 percent. The excess is added to the individual’s income and taxed within the applicable brackets above.

Similarly to the above, the assignee will be subject to additional benefit-in-kind where the Company provides the expatriate with a vehicle.  The additional in-kind element is derived as follows: 

 

Driver and vehicle with fuel 12.5% of the persons total cash emolument up to a maximum of GH¢600 per month
Vehicle with fuel 10% of the persons total cash emolument up to amaximum of GH¢500 per month
Vehicle only 5% of the persons total cash emolument up to a maximum of GH¢250 per month
Fuel only 5% of the persons total cash emolument up to a maximum of GH¢250 per month

Taxation of Bonus

Taxed at a flat rate of 15 percent.

Bonus      
    Annual                               
    Bonus Rates
      GH¢
  Up to 15% of annual basic salary 5%
  More than 15% of annual basic salary (add excess payments to employment income) 
 
Is there, a de minimus number of days rule when it comes to residency start and end date? For example, a taxpayer can’t come back to the host country for more than 10 days after their assignment is over and they repatriate.
 
Not Applicable
 
What if the assignee enters the country before their assignment begins?
 
The individual must ensure the work and residence permit is obtained before the assignment commences. Obtaining work and residence permit can take a minimum of fifteen (15) to twenty (20) working days.  However, if the individual’s assignment begins and any payments are made to him or her before the relevant permits are obtained, the income with Ghanaian source  will still be subject to tax.

Termination of residence

Are there any tax compliance requirements when leaving Ghana?

The assignees upon departure from Ghana must ensure the following tax obligations are met:

  • The relevant taxes are withheld and paid by the employer on his/her employment income.
  • The income tax return is filed.
  • A tax clearance certificate is obtained as evidence of taxes paid.

In terms of immigration

  • A letter of notification is sent to the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) to notify them of the departure of the assignee.

The GIS provides a confirmation letter stating that the assignee has departed from Ghana

What if the assignee comes back for a trip after residency has terminated? 

The individual is required to meet Ghana immigration requirements.  The individual will be taxable on any income which had a source in Ghana during the period spent in Ghana.

Communication between immigration and taxation authorities

There are frequent communications between the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) and the GRA on assignees in Ghana.  Before an assignee is issued with or renews his/her work and residence permit with the GIS, a requests is sent to the GRA for a tax clearance certificate to be obtained.

Do the immigration authorities in Ghana provide information to the local taxation authorities regarding when a person enters or leaves Ghana?

The GIS does not send such information to the GRA.  The GRA, however, could request for such information from GIS when required.

Filing requirements

Will an assignee have a filing requirement in the host country after they leave the country and repatriate?

The employer has up to 30 April after the year end to file the completed returns.  The assignee upon departure has a filing obligation on the immediate period before departure. 

Economic employer approach

Do the taxation authorities in Ghana adopt the economic employer approach1 to interpreting Article 15 of the OECD treaty? If no, are the taxation authorities in Ghana considering the adoption of this interpretation of economic employer in the future?

It is not yet adopted in Ghana.

De minimus number of days

Are there a de minimus number of days before the local taxation authorities will apply the economic employer approach? If yes, what is the de minimus number of days?

Not applicable.

Types of taxable compensation

What categories are subject to income tax in general situations?

 

Income from Employment

  • A person’s income from an employment is all of that person’s gains and profit from that employment unless it is specifically exempted by the Tax Laws.
  • The gains or profits from an employment include any allowances or benefits paid in cash or given in kind to, or on behalf of, that person from that employment.
  • In summary, whatever a person gets – either directly or indirectly – from being employed or from an employment is considered an employment income. That employment income is subject to tax unless specifically exempt by law. 

Tax-exempt income

Are there any areas of income that are exempt from taxation in Ghana? If so, please provide a general definition of these areas.

The following amounts are exempt from income taxation in Ghana:

  • A reimbursement or discharge of a person's dental, medical, or health insurance expenses where the benefit is available to all full-time employees on equal terms;
  • a passage to or from Ghana in respect of that person's appointment or termination of employment where that person:
    • is recruited or engaged outside Ghana;
    • is in Ghana solely for the purpose of serving the employer; and
    • is not a resident of Ghana;
  • Provision of accommodation by an employer carrying on a timber, mining, building, construction or farming business to that person at any place or site where the field operation of the business is carried on;
  • A discharge or reimbursement by an employer of an expenditure incurred by that person on behalf of the employer that serves the proper business purposes of the employer;
  • A payment made to employees on a non-discriminatory basis and which by reason of the size, type and frequency of the payments, are unreasonable or administratively impracticable for the employer to account for or to allocate to an individual;
  • A final withholding payment;
  • a severance pay;
  • an exemption under Section 7 of Act 896

Personal relief

Below are the personal tax reliefs granted to individual tax payers in Ghana.

Description Relief Amount Per Annum
  GH¢
Marriage/Responsibility 200
Old Age 200
Child Education 200 up to 3 children
Aged Dependent 100 up to 2 dependents
Training up to 400
Disabled 25% of Employment/Business Income

Employee’s share of social insurance

Employees contribute 5.5% of their basic salary towards social security.  This contribution is fully deductible for tax purpose in Ghana.

End of services payments and pensions

In accordance with the Income Tax Act, 2015 (Act 896) a person’s income from an employment is all of that person’s gains and profit from that employment unless it is specifically exempted by the Tax Laws.  End of service benefit therefore constitutes ones gain from employment and as such is subject to tax in Ghana.

Pension payments are, however, exempt from taxes in Ghana.

Collective benefits-in-kind

Not Applicable

 

Employee’s profit share

Employees profit share as a result of his/her employment in Ghana constitutes gains from employment which is taxable in accordance with the Income Tax Act, 2015 (Act 896).

Expatriate concessions

Are there any concessions made for expatriates in Ghana?

There are no special tax concessions for expatriates in general.  However, there are Investment Agreements between some companies in Ghana and the government of Ghana that exempt expatriates from taxes if they spend less than thirty (30) continuous days or sixty (60) cumulative days within a given year of assessment.

Companies can therefore, enter into agreement with the government of Ghana to benefit from similar concessions.

Salary earned from working abroad

Is salary earned from working abroad taxed in Ghana? If so, how?

In Ghana, employment income is taxed based on the worldwide income. Non-Ghanaian income of a resident is taxable, even if this is not brought into or received in Ghana. There is however credit for the taxes paid in other jurisdictions on the non-Ghanaian sourced income. The foreign tax credit allowable however shall not exceed the average rate of Ghanaian tax payable on that income. 

Taxation of investment income and capital gains

Are investment income and capital gains taxed in Ghana? If so, how?

In accordance with the Income Tax Act, 2015 (Act 896), any investment income and capital gains with Ghanaian source are  subject to tax in Ghana in the case of non-residents.

Residents, however, are subject to tax on investment income and capital gains on their worldwide income. Interest paid to individuals by a resident financial institution, as well as interest earned on bonds issued by the Government of Ghana, is exempt from tax

Double Taxation Consideration

Country

Dividends

Interests

Royalties

Management fees and Tech. fees
United Kingdom 7.5^ / 15^ 12.5 12.5 10
France 5* / 7.5** / 15^^
10* / 12.5* 10* / 12.5** 10
Netherland 5^ / 10^ 8 8 8
Germany 5^ / 15^^ 10 8 8
Italy 5^ / 15^^ 10 10 10
South Africa 5^ / 15^^ 5# / 10^^ 10 10
Belgium 5^ / 10^^ 10 10 10
Swiss Confederation 5^ / 15^^ 10 8 8
Denmark 5^/5/5α/15^^^ 8 8 8

 

* If the company paying the Dividend, Interest or Royalty is a resident of France

** If the company paying the Dividend, Interest or Royalty is a resident of Ghana

^ If the beneficial owner is a company which holds directly at least 10% of the capital of the company paying the dividend

^^ In all other cases

# If the Interest is derived by a Bank which is a resident of the other contracting state.

∞ If the beneficial owner is the other contracting state or the central bank of the other state or any national agency or any agency (including a financial institution owned or controlled by the government of that other state.

α If the beneficial owner is a pension fund or other similar institution providing pension or other similar institutions where it is established and recognised for tax purposes in accordance with the law of that other state.

By virtue of Act 896 and the Non-discrimination clause under the Double Taxation Treaties, where the tax rates above exceed the general tax rate under “Payments to Non-Residents” the general tax rate applies.

Gains from stock option exercises

Although the exercise of an option is a taxable event, there are no guidelines on how the tax will be computed.  In principle, the difference between the market value and the option price constitute income for the employee and as such is taxed by applying the individual income tax rates.

The gain from the sale of the shares will be the difference between the sales proceeds and the market value at the time of the exercise of the option.  This is however, subject to any guidelines that will be issued by the tax authorities.  The “capital gain” will be taxed at the highest marginal rate. An individual may opt for a rate of 15%

Relief for foreign taxes

Is there any Relief for Foreign Taxes in Ghana? For example, a foreign tax credit (FTC) system, double taxation treaties, and so on? 

For the purposes of ascertaining the income tax payable by a person for a basis period there shall be deducted any foreign tax credit allowed to the person for the year. A resident person is entitled to a credit for a year of assessment, referred to as a "foreign tax credit", for any foreign income tax paid by that person to the extent to which it is paid with respect to that person's assessable foreign income for the year.

Foreign tax credits are calculated separately for taxable foreign income from each business, employment, or investment and shall not exceed the average rate of Ghanaian income tax of that person for the year of assessment applied to that person's taxable foreign income for the year from each business, employment, or investment.

A person's assessable income in respect of which that person is entitled to a foreign tax credit in the above is increased by the amount of the foreign tax credit.

Social security tax

Are there social security/social insurance taxes in Ghana? If so, what are the rates for employers and employees? 

Employer and employee

National Pensions Act, 2008 (Act 766) provides for the establishment of a contributory three-tier pension scheme which consists of:

  • A mandatory basic national social security scheme (First Tier);
  • A mandatory fully funded and privately managed occupational pension scheme (Second Tier); and
  • A voluntary fully funded and privately managed provident fund and personal pension scheme (Third Tier)

Mandatory First and Second Tier Contributions

By law, it is mandatory for all employers in Ghana to contribute to social security on behalf of all their employees.

The total contribution is 18.5% which is made up of 5.5% from the employee and 13% from the employer.  Both contributions are based on the employee’s basic salary.

The payment to the social security scheme is then split into 13.5% which goes into the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) – Tier 1 scheme and the remaining 5% goes to the Tier 2 scheme which is privately managed.

A return is required to be submitted (together with payment) on or before the 14th of every month in respect of the previous month’s contributions.

The Act mandates contributions by and for all employees.  However, due to the practical challenge of enrolling expatriates on the above, expatriates were not contributing to the above.  The Regulators in recent publications and per the gazette of the National Pensions (Amendment) Act, 2014 (Act 883), have spelt out new modalities compelling expatriates to be enrolled on the scheme.

Voluntary Third Tier Contributions (Provident Fund)

This is a voluntary scheme that both the employer and employees can contribute into.  However, such a scheme is required to be registered under the National Pensions Regulatory Authority approved scheme in order to gain tax deductibility. Where this requirement is met, both the employer and the employee may benefit from a tax deduction up to a maximum contribution of 16.5% by both the employer and/or the employee. The above tax benefit can fully be utilized where there are no withdrawals until after the tenth (10th) anniversary of the contribution.

Sample tax calculation

This calculation assumes a taxpayer on a Long-Term Assignment (Host Based) whose three-year assignment begins 1 January 2013 and ends 31 December 2015.  The taxpayer’s compensation details are as follows: 

  2015

US$

Salary 100,000
Performance Bonus

20,000
Cost-of-Living Allowance 10,000
Hardship Allowance

12,000
Utilities

6,000
Children School Fees

2,000
Share Option (Attributable to Ghana)

20,000

 

Exchange rate used for calculation: US$1.00 = GH¢4.20

Other assumptions

  • All earned income is attributable to local sources.
  • The assignee is provided with furnished accommodation and company vehicle with fuel and driver.    
  • Bonuses are paid at the end of each tax year, and accrue evenly throughout the year.      
  • The employee is deemed resident throughout the assignment.
  • Any hypothetical tax ignored.

    Calculation of taxable income and tax payable for 2015 Year of Assessment

      GH¢ GH¢ GH¢
    Consolidated Salary     420,000.00
    Add: Non-Consolidated Allowances      
    Hardship Allowance   50,400.00   
    Cost of Living Allowance   42,000.00   
    Utilities
      25,200.00   
    Share Option   84,000.00   
    Children School Fees   8,400.00   
    Bonus
    84,000.00     
    Less Bonus Taxed @ 5% 63,000.00     
        21,000.00   
           231,000.00 
          651,000.00 
    Add: Benefits-in-Kind      
    Car   7,200.00   
    Accommodation
      65,100.00    
          72,300.00
    Chargeable Income     723,300.00
    Tax Charged    177,158.00  
    Add Bonus Taxed @ 5%   3,150.00  
    Tax Payable      180,308.00

    Footer

    1Certain tax authorities adopt an ‘economic employer’ approach to interpreting Article 15 of the OECD model treaty which deals with the Dependent Services Article. In summary, this means that if an employee is assigned to work for an entity in the host country for a period of less than 183 days in the fiscal year (or, a calendar year of a 12-month period), the employee remains employed by the home country employer but the employee's salary and costs are recharged to the host entity, then the host country tax authority will treat the host entity as being the ‘economic employer’ and therefore the employer for the purposes of interpreting Article 15. In this case, Article 15 relief would be denied and the employee would be subject to tax in the host country.

    TAXATION OF INTERNATIONAL EXECUTIVES

    A global survey of income tax, social security tax rates and tax legislation impacting expatriate employees.

     
    Read more

    © 2016 KPMG a partnerships established under Ghanaian law and a member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. All rights reserved.

    Connect with us

     

    Request for proposal

     

    Submit

    KPMG's new digital platform

    KPMG's new digital platform