Grumbling Germans want refund over new compulsory receipt law

Many receipts are printed on paper that cannot be recycled. (AFP)
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Updated 19 January 2020

Grumbling Germans want refund over new compulsory receipt law

  • German authorities hope to tighten their grip on money flows through businesses where a large proportion of payments happen in cash

FRANKFURT: In January, it became law in Germany that retailers must print a receipt for every last transaction in a bid to fight tax evasion, but shopkeepers, customers and industry groups are already bucking against the scheme.

“Small shops’ cash registers already have electronic chips that tax officials can read any time. Why should we go back to the old system?” asked Christian Koch, owner of Hammett, a specialist crime novel shop in Berlin.

“It’s a pain, of the 50 tickets I print each day I’ll throw 49 straight in the bin,” he added.

Even bakers selling rolls for a few dozen euro cents each must now print a receipt for every transaction — even when their customer doesn’t want one.

With their high numbers of small sales each day now generating reams of unwanted documentation, bakeries and snack stands are especially outraged by the change in the law.

“I’ve already emptied this once,” said a worker at Frankfurt sausage stand “Best Worscht in Town,” pointing to a bin overflowing with discarded slips of paper during the busy lunch hour trade.

“It’s a really stupid idea for the environment.”

Obligatory receipts were voted through in 2016, but the law slipped under the public radar until shortly before it came into effect on Jan. 1.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier asked Finance Minister Olaf Scholz to give up on the plans, especially because receipts printed on thermal paper cannot be recycled.

Since then, retailers’ federation HDE has also written to Scholz, asking him to exempt businesses that issue more than 500 receipts per day on average.

“That’s one receipt per minute for a shop open nine hours a day,” the group said in the document, seen by AFP.

Until now Scholz has resisted all such calls, saying the fight against tax evasion — estimated at around €10 billion by tax officials — must include preventing shops and restaurants from failing to record transactions properly.

“I don’t think small shops are really trying to get out of paying their taxes,” said Sarah, a shopper at Hammett.

“They should worry more about people like Amazon, make them pay their taxes in Germany,” she added.

German authorities hope to tighten their grip on money flows through businesses where a large proportion of payments happen in cash, making them more open to tax fraud.

In Berlin, retailers are legally required to install tamper-proof cash registers by October, and many have yet to make the switch.

“It costs close to €1,000 ($1,110) per device, and a lot more if you have to buy a new one,” trades association ZDH told AFP.

That represents a “prohibitive” cost for retailers, especially those like a chain of bakeries with 30 or 40 branches, for example, it added.

The finance ministry retorts that Austria, Italy, Portugal and other European countries get along just fine with obligatory receipts.

But the HDE notes that France plans to gradually phase out the requirement — except in cases where customers explicitly request a paper record.

Kuwait MPs launch probe into Airbus deal

Updated 5 min 19 sec ago

Kuwait MPs launch probe into Airbus deal

  • The decision came after a debate on allegations that Airbus paid kickbacks to secure a deal 6 years ago
  • The parliament also asked the finance ministry to review recent aircraft deals involving state-owned Kuwait Airways

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait's parliament on Wednesday formed a fact-finding panel to probe alleged kickbacks in a deal between the national carrier and Airbus, which last month paid massive fines to settle bribery scandals.
The parliament's decision came after a special debate on allegations that Airbus paid kickbacks to secure a 25-aircraft deal six years ago.
It also asked the Audit Bureau, the state accounting watchdog, to investigate the deal, which was reportedly worth billions of dollars, although exact figures were never released.
Kuwait Airway Co. in 2014 ordered 15 Airbus 320neo and 10 Airbus 350, with delivery beginning last year and continuing until 2021.
Opposition lawmaker Riyadh al-Adasani told the session that Kuwait was mentioned in a settlement struck by Airbus in a British court on January 31, along with the names of some Kuwaiti officials and citizens.
Under the settlement, Airbus agreed to pay 3.6 billion euros ($3.9 billion) in fines to Britain, France and the United States to settle corruption probes into some of its aircraft sales.
Days after the settlement, Sri Lanka ordered an investigation into a multi-billion dollar aircraft purchase from Airbus after the deal was named in the settlement.
The former chief of Sri Lankan Airlines, Kapila Chandrasena, was arrested on February 6 for allegedly receiving bribes relating to the deal.
Earlier this month, two senior officials of the Malaysia-based AirAsia stepped aside while authorities probe unusual payments at the carrier, as the fallout from the Airbus scandal reverberated across the industry.
Kuwait in recent years also initiated criminal investigations into two large military aircraft deals involving Airbus -- a $9 billion Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes deal and a contract for 30 Caracal military helicopters costing $1.2 billion.