10 18 January 2001
VAT fines reaping rewards
Fines collected by the VAT Department last year amounted to thousands of Malta liri.
In fact last year 39 sittings regarding VAT and another 22 sittings regarding CET were held at the Law Courts last year.
Most of those taken to court were people who failed to send VAT refunds, while others were charged with failing to issue a VAT receipt. Shop owners who face prosecution are in the region of 600 a month.
A total of 117 shop owners were prosecuted for not issuing a VAT receipt between January 1, 1999 and June 30, 2000, while a further 13 restaurant owners and 78 street hawkers, including those found in open markets, were also prosecuted for the same reason.
During the last six months of the year, trends showed that the figures were on the rise.
Those who fail to send the VAT refunds are fined Lm100 and a Lm6 daily fine for every day they fail to pay. In most of the cases retailers are given a month's time to pay up.
A considerable number of those fined are relapsers who, in some cases, have been fined thousands of pounds.
Fines for not issuing a receipt are more severe and in some cases can go up to Lm300. Contrary to what many think, consumers will not be arraigned in court if they are found without a receipt.
Recently, VAT inspectors have stepped up their inspections in many areas, especially in night-clubs. A fair number of shop owners are expected to be arraigned in court following the busy Christmas period, when it is believed that the number of people not given a receipt could be higher.
Fines were put up when CET replaced VAT first time round.
Under VAT initially, fines were about Lm50, but these were put up by the Labour government when CET replaced VAT.
VAT second time around led to harsher fines. The receipts lottery has also gained momentum and insiders told The Business Times that consumers sending receipts for the lottery had practically doubled.