Citing the need to combat tax evasion, the government ordered on Thursday all Armenian firms selling goods or providing services to install larger and more expensive cash registers within the next two years.
The measure proposed by the State Revenue Committee (SRC) risks provoking protests by thousands of small businesses that could balk at the price of the new cash registers, which government officials said could reach 180,000 drams ($440) apiece.
The government already faced such protests several years ago when it mandated the gradual introduction of the devices used for calculating and recording transactions subject to value-added tax (VAT), the single largest source of government revenue. The process, which led to the virtual abolition of fixed taxes levied from small firms, was completed in 2008.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting, the SRC chief, Gagik Khachatrian, said his tax collection agency has found that many businesses tamper with their cash registers to underreport their sales. “They are doing software manipulations and that lowers their declared turnover and our tax receipts,” he told ministers. “That is why we propose to change cash registers.”
One of Khachatrian’s deputies, Vakhtang Mirumian, told journalists that the country’s 1,000 or so largest enterprises paying VAT must purchase and install the new devices by January 2013. The nearly 63,000 other businesses will have to do so before January 2015, he said.
Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian instructed the SRC and the ministries of finance and economy to make the installation process “painless” for small firms.
The government decision came more than a month after two other deputy heads of the SRC were dismissed by Sarkisian. Media reports alleged that shops belonging to one of them, Artashes Beybutian, were found to have rigged their cash registers.