Quebec reins in restaurant tax evasion
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By Russell Piffer
Quebec has boosted tax revenues by about $160 million in the one year since implementing a system to track all sales in the province’s restaurants, Quebec’s tax collection agency said in a statement Thursday.
“We are very, very pleased with the results,” Revenu Quebec spokesperson Andree-Anne Stewart told Humber News. “Because of our efforts, we are expected to recover more than $2.3 billion by 2018-19.”
That is an increase of about $300 million each year, Stewart said.
The sales recording system became mandatory in all restaurants on Nov. 1, 2011 and since then 33,000 machines have been installed in over 19,000 restaurants.
The machines – black boxes affixed to restaurants’ cash terminals – print of a receipt with the restaurant’s bar code on it so that customers know their bill was printed by the module.
“Tax fairness is in the interest of all. Part of Revenu Quebec’s mission is to ensure that all taxpayers contribute their fair share to the funding of public services,” the agency said in a statement Thursday.
According to the statement, the province lost about $420 million in revenue because of tax evasion in the restaurant industry in the 2008-2009 fiscal year.
Jean Lefebvre, vice president government affairs of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, told Humber News the modules cost about $80 million to install and were paid for by the government.
A restaurant is subject to a $400 fine if it is caught handing out a bill not printed by a module, he said.
“The key in this is you have to hand out a bill on each transaction, even if you buy a coffee,” Lefebvre said. “Handing out the bill means that the transaction has been registered.”
“If somebody cheats it’s the citizen that pay. If we need more money in Quebec health or education they’ll be asking you as a citizen to pay more,” Lefebvre said. “If they can wrap up $169 million more that’s good for society. “
From Sept. 1, 2010 to Oct. 31, 2012, Revenu Québec conducted inspections at 15,956 restaurants.
The agency released the following statistics:
• Warnings were issued in 1,433 cases
• 3,765 statements of offence were served
• A total of $1,335,400 in fines were levied
• There were 2,200 convictions.
• 52 per cent of the statements of offense issued were for failing to provide customers with a bill containing the prescribed information, for providing a bill not produced using an SRM or for failing to keep a register in compliance with the prescribed rules
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