The government’s Court of Auditors – the body charged with supervising the public accounts – has criticised the so-called white cash register, introduced to cut down on undeclared work and income in the restaurant and bar trade. According to the Court, the system, intended to make it impossible for workers to avoid declaring their hours, and for owners to avoid declaring income, is far too easy still to circumvent, the Court has said. The system does its job well as long as owners are honest, but that was never the intention.
“It is still possible to print off a receipt on another register, let the client pay and put the cash in your pocket,” the report says.
The white register prints out a detailed recept listing all orders and prices, but the Court found a great many customers are perfectly happy with a receipt showing only the full price. Most are not interested ieither in the obligatory VAT receipt they should receive. Finally, most customers still pay cash, and in fact there remain establishments where cards of any kind are not accepted.
The result is that restaurant owners – bar are only concerned with the legislation if they make a certain amount of their income from food service – not only avoid having to pay tax on earnings not declared, they also charge the customer VAT without having to pass it on to the government.
The Court is advising restaurant customers always to demand a VAT receipt, and has come up with a novel idea to encourage them to do so.
“Some countries, such as Portugal and Croatia, encourage customers by offering a lottery or a points system by which they can win cash prizes.” The restaurant receipt would then become a tombola ticket, exciting more interest among clients who would not have bothered otherwise. The Court described the idea as more friendly than the proposal from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to make it an offence not to ask for a VAT receipt.
Federal finance minister Alexander De Croo has acknowledged the recommendations of the Court, and has asked his services to investigate possible improvements to the system.