Tax authorities in Armenia have effectively given small businesses more time to install a new and more expensive type of cash registers which they say will make tax fraud more difficult.
The Armenian government ordered their gradual introduction in 2012 after the State Revenue Committee (SRC) claimed that many firms tamper with their cash registers to underreport their sales. It said the new devices will correctly calculate and record transactions subject to value-added tax (VAT), the single largest source of state revenue.
The country’s 1,000 or so largest enterprises paying VAT were the first to purchase and install them by January 2013. Thousands of others firms with more modest turnovers had to do so by last November. Shops and other small and medium-sized enterprises were supposed to end the process on July 1, 2014.
However, press reports have said in recent weeks that the SRC is in no rush to enforce the deadline because a special agency set up by it to handle the process has failed to import a sufficient number of such devices to Armenia so far. The SRC, which was incorporated into the Finance Ministry in April, refused to comment on the matter on Wednesday.
Most small business owners interviewed by RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) said that they have so far avoided buying the new cash registers because of this uncertainty. They complained that the devices currently worth 150,000 drams ($370) apiece are too costly.
“I can’t understand the point of doing that,” said one female entrepreneur. “Last year we bought a new-generation cash register. But they told us that it’s not good enough and that we need to buy a different device for 150,000 drams, which we haven’t done yet because there is talk that their introduction will be delayed.”
“Somebody wants to fill his pockets. This is their goal,” another businessman claimed, referring to senior tax officials.
The new cash registers cost as much as 370,000 drams when the SRC began introducing them. Responding to complaints from the business community, the government last October lowered the price to 150,000 drams for small firms and to 280,000 drams for larger entities with an annual turnover of up to 500 million drams.