That was the headline of an article in the Aargauer Zeitung of 23 August 2014. The article is of course related to the vote on the „Gastroinitiative“ on 28 September. But this is not the point of this article. The editor has taken up a topic, which I had already discussed months ago in my blog „When the VAT rate is in inverse proportion to the cost“. The difference between the reduced rate of 2.5% for take-aways and the standard rate of 8% for the catering industry is passed on to the consumer only infrequently.
The headline of the article caught my interest. Do I really commit tax fraud, if I eat a kebab at the food stall? If so, I should really be for the „Gastroinitiative“ in order to avoid this risk in future. This risk does not exist and you will have to find other reasons for supporting or rejecting the initiative.
You commit tax fraud, only if for the purpose of tax avoidance you use a false or falsified or incorrect document with the intent of deceiving the tax authority. This crime could be committed only by the kebab seller and not by the customer and merely issuing a cash receipt with the incorrect tax rate is not tax fraud. The customer can also not be accused of abetting tax fraud; he didn’t issue the incorrect cash receipt. Incitement to tax fraud would be possible in theory. But then the customer would have to request the seller to press the wrong tax rate key. But firstly he has nothing to gain; in most case the price remains the same and secondly he will probably not have issued a document relevant for the tax fraud.
Whether you eat the kebab at the food stall or not, does have VAT consequences. It becomes critical for the kebab seller in particular, if he issues a cash receipt with the reduced tax rate, although the customer (e.g. a VAT auditor) has answered that he will eat the kebab on the spot. This can result in additional tax claims, which are raised at discretion. The FTA will probably resort to its flat-rate rule (See MWST-Branchen-Info 08 Hotels and Restaurants Section 1.3.4) and tax 50% of the turnover at the standard rate.
It is obvious that with a uniform rate these demarcation issues are eliminated. But whether this warrants accepting the „Gastroninitiative“ is a political question. Given the current fiscal position, acceptance of the „Gastroinitiatve“ is associated with an increase in the reduced tax rate and therefore with a cost increase for food, books and medicines, etc.