Law

Sprite-for-tax swap leads to 10,000 RMB lawsuit

JDM081029tax.jpg
"But we have to pay lots of tax, too!"

It's probably safe to say that few people enjoy paying taxes. Many businesses and individuals actively seek out ways to avoid giving any more money to the government than they absolutely have to.

The State Administration of Taxation realizes this and uses a variety of approaches to convince citizens to become taxpayers, including an annual Flash animation competition that's the source of the image here.

The administration also puts a scratch-off lottery onto many receipts so that customers have an incentive to request them and keep their purchases on the books. Restaurants and shops counter with incentives of their own: they offer discounts or free gifts on purchases so long as customers don't ask for a receipt.

Occasionally you'll read stories of consumers complaining that streetside vendors or railway concession carts refused to issue a receipt for a purchase of a bottle of mineral water, but the system generally proceeds without major incident.

Today, however, The Beijing News tells the story of one Beijing consumer who sued a restaurant for 10,000 yuan over a receipt she initially declined. Here's a translation:

Offering Sprite in exchange for a receipt lands a restaurant in court

by Zhu Yan / TBN

"My conscience, or a Sprite? If I gain, the country loses!" Seated in the Dongcheng District courtroom yesterday, plaintiff Hu held up a receipt and confronted the defendant, Bayunfang Sichuan Restaurant. The receipt, which she ought to have been given right after her meal, was nearly swapped by the restaurant for a bottle of Sprite. Ms. Hu believed her right to monitor the collection of national taxes had been infringed, so she sued the restaurant for 10,000 yuan in emotional damages.

Customer: The receipt was nearly swapped for a bottle of Sprite

Ms. Hu, a freelance writer, spent 114 on dinner at Bayunfang on October 8. She said that when the time came to pay the bill, the server asked her if she wanted a receipt and offered her a 1.25 liter bottle of Sprite if she didn't. Hu accepted. "I was delighted at the time. I thought I had made out good." But she soon realized that the restaurant's actions enabled it to duck its taxes, and she herself was an accomplice.

Ms. Hu claimed that she became increasingly uneasy and before long returned to the restaurant to request a proper receipt. She even offered to pay for the Sprite. But the restaurant refused. A few days later she filed a lawsuit to bring Bayunfang to court, accusing it of infringing on her right to monitor the collection of national taxes; she sought 10,000 yuan for emotional losses. The day after the suit was filed, the restaurant sent over a receipt.

Restaurant: Claims entrapment by the customer

Yesterday, Bayunfang boss Ms. Bo went to court in person. She related to the court how, after she was done dining, Ms. Hu had said, "If I don't want a receipt, can you give me something in return?" The restaurant agreed to give her a bottle of Sprite. "The actions of the other party were obviously an attempt to entrap the restaurant into breaking the law," Bo said, although she provided no evidence. In addition, she claimed that the plaintiff's motivations for the suit were questionable: "She says it's in the country's interest, but why didn't she report to the Tax Bureau instead of looking for money from us?" She believes Hu is sensationalizing the issue.

Hu denied the allegation that "the customer requested Sprite in exchange for a receipt." The court has yet to announce a date for its decision.

Follow-up

Yesterday, this reporter asked several Beijing restaurants about meal receipts and received several different answers:

· Discount at Beijing Outlets Yunnan Restaurant

After the meal, the server asked, "Do you want a receipt?" and said that there would be a 5% discount without a receipt. The server said that the restaurant had always done this; if customers requested a receipt, they would be issued one.

· Coupons at a porridge restaurant on Xingfu Dajie

After the meal, the server asked the customer about the receipt and said that if he didn't want one, he would get "porridge coupons" for a certain amount.

· No incentive at Spice Spirit's Chongwenmen branch

The server said that the restaurant would issue receipts to customers after meals, and if a customer did not want a receipt, the restaurant would not offer any gift or discount in exchange.


The article also notes this form of tax evasion is difficult to tackle, because it leaves no evidence and customers who are given incentives to decline receipts are unlikely to make reports to the Tax Bureau.

Links and Sources
There are currently 4 Comments for Sprite-for-tax swap leads to 10,000 RMB lawsuit.

Comments on Sprite-for-tax swap leads to 10,000 RMB lawsuit

Interesting dodges.

It's also a not-unusual scam done by other restaurants to a newly opened restaurant that hasn't had all of their paperwork approved. I.e. they have premises, a company has been formed, but given a multitude of government departments to go through (some cities are streamlined, Dalian in my experience is not) it's inevitable one department is dragging their feet, without whose approval receipts with tax cannot be issued (IOUs may be, but tax receipts not). This delay costs a restaurant money (space is already rented in order to apply for the correct paperwork) and may last a month or more.

Competitor notices a large drop in business and visits, puts 2 and 2 together, pays someone (or sends their own staff) to eat there, threatening to take the restaurant to the tax office for an automatic 10,000 RMB fine if a receipt is not issued. Sometimes some quite established names threatening smaller independent start-ups.

Ms. Hu just had unfortunate timing. An hour before she came in, a small group of police/military personnel/local gov't officials went to Bayunfang Sichuan Restaurant, ate 500 RMB of food, paid 100RMB, and took 10,000RMB in fapiao.

In São Paulo city to control the receipts issues major has set that consumers who ask for their receipts they will get in return discounts
(proportional to the value of the purchase)at their ICMS (local tax). That was a way where major have us (the citizen/consumers) as their fiscals.

@bocaj:

Brilliant! LOL

China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
The latest recommended blogs and new media
laomo2010x80.jpg
From 2008
Front Page of the Day
A different newspaper every weekday
From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Culture and corporate propaganda in Soho Xiaobao (2007.11): Mid-2007 issues of Soho Xiaobao (SOHO小报), illustrating the complicated identity of in-house magazines run by real estate companies.
+ Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship (2010.03): Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship at an officially sanctioned meeting in Shenzhen.
+ Crowd-sourced cheating on the 2010 gaokao (2010.06): A student in Sichuan seeks help with the ancient Chinese section of this year's college entrance exam -- while the test is going on!
Danwei Archives