Finance minister plots smooth rollout of electronic earnings declarations


Electronic cash registers are a flagship policy of ANO leader and finance minister Andrej Babiš and he and his ministry are now in the throes of trying to ensure that the introduction of the controversial appliances to clampdown on tax dodgers goes smoothly.

Photo: Hekata 5, CC BY-SA 3.0Photo: Hekata 5, CC BY-SA 3.0 Czech finance minister Andrej Babiš is staking a lot on electronic cash registers. He has championed the devices that automatically register payments for goods and services and transmit them to authorities as a fundamental step in his campaign against tax evasion. But the centre right opposition has been just as vociferous in their opposition to the move, arguing that it will be a costly white elephant which just burdens business with little real revenue increase for government coffers.

The Czech Republic is currently the odd man out of the Visegrad four regional grouping, which also comprises Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary, in introducing what are in effect electronic declarations of earnings.

The minister on Monday outlined how he and his officials are trying to pave the way for a smooth transition to the new system with web pages to explain the staged phase in; help lines, and seminars in the run up to December 1 when it will take effect for the first batch of firms.

Andrej Babiš, photo: CTKAndrej Babiš, photo: CTK In spite of those steps, minister Babiš admitted that it was still difficult to get the fundamental message across:

“It is important that businesses are informed in time about this. We are intensively trying to inform the public but we are still coming up against a lot of disinformation. We have web pages, we have introduced a phone help line from August 1 which functions from nine till five daily but it is now only being used at around 30 percent of capacity.”

The changes will be explained at the showcase Brno trade fair in mid-September with around 20 companies providing the IT applications and equipment for electronic cash registers showing off their wares. Mr Babiš added that the costs of all of the equipment for firms should come in slightly cheaper than expected at an average of just over 4,000 crowns. Firms will be able to write off 5,000 crowns of the costs against their tax payments.

The finance minister says traditional Christmas stands offering mulled wine or sweet pastries will not be burdened with having to be furnished with electronic cash registers from the start of December. Neither will refreshment stands at festivals.

The four stage roll out begins with hotels, pubs and restaurants and will affect around 100,000 businesses. They will be given a month’s testing phase to start to get to grips with the technology and process before it starts in earnest.

Photo: archive of Radio PraguePhoto: archive of Radio Prague The next in line will be retailers from the start of March, 2017. A year later it will be the turn of lawyers, accountants, transport operators and farmers. And, finally, various craftspeople and manufacturers will complete the process.

The ministry and tax officials promise to take a fairly lenient approach to businessmen and women who struggle to get used to the new system but warn that they will make use of punitive fines for those who flout the new rules.