> "So what might happen is that the customer orders a $60 steak and a $100 bottle of wine,"
This off-the-cuff thought says everything you need to know about the tax man.
Tax authorities from Australia, Canada, France, the UK and the USA have conducted a joint probe into "electronic sales suppression software" – applications that falsify point of sale data to help merchants avoid paying tax on their true revenue. A Friday announcement [PDF] from the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (known …
There's nowt wrong with horsemeat.
Most people will certainly eat a lot worse before they get really hungry, and I'd pick it over McDonalds any day.
As it happens, after the Findus horse-meat scandal a few years back, one of our local pubs was doing a nice line in "exotic meat" burgers. IIRC, as well as horse, which was very nice, they also had ostrich and kangaroo (both of which are commonly enough eaten to be found in supermarkets), alongside crocodile (like fishy chicken), camel (didn't try that one), and some sort of wild goat, which tasted, unsurprisingly, like goat.
As long as it's ethically farmed, why not? Horses are certainly no more intelligent than some of the other animals we eat, such as pigs.
"...stop sending my tax returns to an address that I haven't lived at for 17 years?"
Heh, HMRC decided that our business had changed its name. Of course it hadn't, it's only ever had one name for 38 years.
It took two years to get it fixed, and then it was only because I'd registered as a software developer and in desperation I moaned about it to somebody with a brain on the HMRC dev team.
I find it funny that some people are running this software to reduce their reported earnings and other identical businesses are doing the exact opposite in inflate their earnings in order to launder money ( very possibly from the first group ).
Does the software have an option to report falsely inflated earnings too? Untapped market if not...
I can't not think of brexit at this point (or at any other point, as a matter of fact ;) Yes, I know, 'this' has got _nothing_ to do with stimulating the true brit entrepreneur spirit having finally broken free from the shackles of the EU and all that, and yet... the spirit is storng with this one! Almost makes me proud ;)
Bizarre that Brexit would cross anyone's mind on this subject (and you're not the first to mention it in the comments to this story).
I guess it shows how deeply ingrained it has become among some to look for a Brexit angle in almost anything.
Anyone know what offence the developers of the software are suspected of having committed? I'm a bit out of touch with the latest legal situation, but I'd have thought that selling software that can be used by other people to do naughty things wasn't in itself illegal?
Otherwise you'd think Microsoft would be on the hook for all the shenanigans that has doubtless been facilitated via MS Office over the past 25 years?
"selling software that can be used by other people to do naughty things wasn't in itself illegal?"
If it's 'dual-use' and can be used for non-illegal purposes, probably not illegal. If it's only purpose is to facilitate crime, probably illegal. I'm pretty sure there's some added legalistic nuance in there, probably also varying by jurisdiction.
In Portugal they used to have something called "training mode" in cash registers, where transactions would be inputed, invoices emitted, but nothing would be registered on the ledger.
Then tax authorities decided that every last thing ever sold would have a unique invoice number tied to both the seller and, optionally or, above a certain threshold, mandatorily, to the buyer (who, in those cases, would get a small fiscal cashback of part of the paid VAT, meant for encouraging the buyer's voluntary participation).
These kind of VAT frauds almost disappeared, although services not invoiced (cash-in-hand, as electronic payments leave a trace), and VAT carousel fraud are still very much alive.
How is it you go about marketing such a product? How does a potential "customer" even find it given it's illegal? It's not quite the same thing as buying some weed off a street dealer or something, this is something designed specifically to commit tax fraud. It's one thing if an individual business owner decides they want to start cooking the books, but to make a product specifically for that purpose and then sell it, internationally even, means they had to have some way of getting in touch with business owners who were also looking to actively commit tax fraud.
And on a related note, I hope all the businesses that purchased this dodgy bit of kit were handed a bill by the tax man for both what they owe and some hefty fines on top. At least over here in the States, it's a real problem that companies large and small use every trick they can think of to avoid paying taxes. Which means our infrastructure is starting to fall apart, infrastructure companies depend on for the success of their business no less, but until there's some catastrophic failure no one will devote money to it. We can't educate our young people and things like QAnon fill the void because people don't know how to think critically. And companies like Apple (though they are hardly alone) sit on mountains of cash in various other locales because they don't want to pay any repatriation taxes. Even the guy who came up with the "maximize shareholder value" idea has disavowed it and said that corporate executives have taken it way too far.
Let's not discount the politicians in this - that the Republicans pretty much starved the IRS of investigative funding was no accident, and neither are all the loopholes that exist.
In the UK you have the problem that HMRC appears to be not accountable to anyone, so when they started to mess around with IR35 (because if you're not a gazillionaire you must bleed) and utterly screwed it up to the point that they themselves couldn't make sense of it nobody got it in the neck for it, and that's just one of many, many cases where they flat out mishandled things.
I have no problem with being accountable for tax, but I think it's not much to ask that those who generate spurious tax bills for (as far as I can tell) no other reason than that they're bored or don't like people must have a mechanism by which they can be held accountable because they're causing harm. Tarring and feathering a couple of those would do a world of good.
Based on history -- both recent and ancient -- there's really no shortage of money for things that the government is really interested in. It is, after all, just a matter of priorities and the reason why socially useful things are low priority isn't because of someone fiddling the VAT but because it isn't a priority and it has never been so. (Crotchety old geezer here, "seen it all before".)
The fundamental problem with VAT is that its way too high. It was introduced in the UK to replace Purchase Tax because the EC used it and even at a relatively modest rate it collected much more money than the old Purchase Tax (which was levied only on "luxury items" and wasn't levied on services, utilities and the like). Many, many, budgets have come and gone since then, all with their emphasis on 'tax cuts to stimulate the economy' but somehow cutting the VAT rate isn't mentioned (and if it is its only a nominal cut). So everyone's stuck with a crippling indirect tax that is largely responsible for shifting wealth from ordinary people to the very well off.
If VAT was reasonable then there would be less incentive to fiddle it.
> "So what might happen is that the customer orders a $60 steak and a $100 bottle of wine,"
> Ford explained, at which point the software changes the transaction so it is recorded in the
> point of sale system as "a $10 bowl of chips and a $4 bottle of soft drink."
Obviously this is not the correct way to reduce tax.
They should be opening the wine with a 'special' corkscrew, the use of which is licensed through a company registered in the Seychelles. $60 of the $100 therefore goes in 'licensing' to "Corkage.S.A.R.L." The steak was bought for $70 from "CMOT Dibbler Enterprises" registered in the Caymans, shipped via Luxemburg and sold at a loss
Once you've taken into account the rental of the building (Owned by Mrs Oligarch via Bermuda) and the tables, cutlery, etc which are owned by "Tables And Chairs.Co" registered in Maryland you realise the restaurant is running at a loss and the owner a Mr Oligarch is actually running it out of the goodness of his heart.
Mr Oligarch is a director in all the above mentioned companies, but you shouldn't worry about that. And since he isn't intending to stay in the UK on a permanent basis he retains his non-dom status so doesn't need to declare any income from those overseas companies.
For the period between when shop scales went electronic but still weighed loose foodstuffs in pounds, ounces and eights of an ounce, they were rigged to read heavy unless the reading was square on a whole number of ounces.
That particular little scam had to come to an abrupt end when we joined the civilised world and started weighing things in kilograms, since it's possible to multiply two decimal fractions before the sales assistant has removed the goods from the scale platform.