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Tax agency cracks down on cash register cheats

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17:51 CEST+02:00
Starting at the half-year mark, the National Tax Agency (Skatteverket) will take a hard line to stop small businesses from cheating through their cash registers.

Skatteverket will make an estimated 50,000 unannounced visits to ensure that businesses follow the law at the cash register.

The new cash register law took effect at the end of last year. It aims to put an end to all manipulated cash register and withheld income. According to Skatteverket, several billion kronor of tax are evaded in this way every year.

So far in 2010, Skatteverket has chosen to tread cautiously in its controls.

"In July, the soft controls will end and the companies that are subject to the requirements must have cash registers in place," Conny Svensson, country project manager at Skatteverket, told news agency TT. "Otherwise, it will be a fine of 10,000 kronor ($1,277)."

Skatteverket investigated over 500 small businesses last year that were suspected of cheating. Among them, they had withheld between 20 to 40 percent of revenues on average. These businesses included cafés, opticians, betting shops, grocery stores, florists and hairdressers.

Small businesses with turnover of over 170,000 kronor are covered by the new cash register law, which applies to about 200,000 enterprises. However, there are several exceptions, such as market traders, temporary traders and trade fairs and exhibitions.

"This is not just about trying to recoup billions of kronor to Skatteverket," said Svensson. "The aim is also to protect legitimate businesses from unfair competition."

He added, "In the restaurant industry alone, cheating amounts to 13 billion kronor annually."

So far this year, Skatteverket has visited 33,000 businesses and the vast majority have ordered their cash registers, but not yet installed them.

"It is probably busy now at many companies getting cash registers installed," said Svensson. "We will do 50,000 company visits this year. They will deal with everything from ensuring that they have cash registers on site to ensuring that the cash registers are properly used."

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