Monday, March 9, 2009

A store owner in the city center told us that the tax people wanted to shut down a certain store (apparently someone with connections wanted to take over the store) and had tried everything, but couldn’t find any reason to shut him down, as he was doing everything legally, giving receipts to all customers, etc. All else failing, they had his power shut off, after which he couldn’t print the receipts, without electricity, so they shut him down for not giving receipts for purchases customers had made.

In stores in Armenia, each receipt for an item purchased has a number that is a potential prize winner, cash prizes of 5,000 dram on up, so many people are asking for, even demanding, a receipt, yet store clerks aren’t giving receipts unless the customer requests one. That way, if the store doesn’t issue a receipt, they don’t have to pay taxes on items sold. Of course, if a customer isn’t familiar to them, they give a receipt, worried that the customer might be a representative from a tax agency sent there to check up on them.

Related, word on the streets has it that when certain favored businessmen give goods to a store for sale, that by law they have to report how much the price is (how much the store owner pays the businessman for the item, before he then marks it up for selling), but that they turn in a sum of, say, 100 dram, even though the store owner gave the businessman 500 dram. In this way, the “favored businessmen” have to pay little taxes, while the store owner has to pick up the tab. The basic tax collector knows this, but, knows better than reporting the practice.

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