Taxation of international executives
All income tax information is summarized by KPMG, the Ghana member firm of KPMG international based on the Ghanaian Internal Revenue Act, 2000 (Act 592).
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?
What are the compliance requirements for tax returns in Ghana?
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:
For the purposes of taxation, how is an individual defined as a resident of Ghana?
What are the current income tax rates for residents and non-residents in Ghana?
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|
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
||7.5% of the person’s total cash emoluments
||2.5% of the person’s total cash emoluments
||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|
A taxable benefit is computed on a loan provided in return for services if the following conditions are not satisfied:
Where the above conditions are not met, interest benefit is computed for the year as a quarter of the interest imputed at the Bank of Ghana rediscount rate (“BOGR”) minus interest paid by the employee during the year.
Taxed at a flat rate of 15 percent.
|Up to||15% of annual basic salary||5%|
|More than||15% of annual basic salary||(add excess payments to employment income)|
Are there any tax compliance requirements when leaving Ghana?
The assignees upon departure from Ghana must ensure the following tax obligations are met:
In terms of immigration
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
What categories are subject to income tax in general situations?
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:
Below are the personal tax reliefs granted to individual tax payers in Ghana.
|Description||Relief Amount Per Annum|
|Child Education||200 up to 3 children
|Aged Dependent||100 up to 2 dependents
|Training||up to 400
|Disabled||25% of Employment/Business Income|
Employees contribute 5.5% of their basic salary towards social security. This contribution is fully deductible for tax purpose in Ghana.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
||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|
* 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.
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%
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.
Are there social security/social insurance taxes in Ghana? If so, what are the rates for employers and employees?
National Pensions Act, 2008 (Act 766) provides for the establishment of a contributory three-tier pension scheme which consists of:
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.
This calculation assumes a taxpayer on a Long-Term Assignment (Host Based) whose three-year assignment begins 1 January 2015 and ends 31 December 2017. The taxpayer’s compensation details are as follows:
|Children School Fees
|Share Option (Attributable to Ghana)
Exchange rate used for calculation: US$1.00 = GH¢4.20
Calculation of taxable income and tax payable for 2017 Year of Assessment
|Add: Non-Consolidated Allowances|
|Cost of Living Allowance||42,000.00|
|Children School Fees||8,400.00|
|Less Bonus Taxed @ 5%||63,000.00|
|Total Cash Emolument (TCE)||651,000.00|
|Accommodation (10% of TCE)
|Add Bonus Taxed @ 5%||3,150.00|
|Tax Payable|| 180,307.50
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.
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