Customers as accomplices

By: trademagazin Date: 2007. 08. 29. 08:00

If you have purchased a branded piece of clothing in the Italian black market lately, you are probably aware of the risk you have taken. Nowadays, it is not only the seller of illegal merchandise who gets prosecuted but the buyer as well. Buyers are easier to catch and liable to pay a heavy fine. It is conceivable that clients of illegal merchants selling fruits, sweets, or cosmetics on Hungarian streets will soon also have to run from tax inspectors. According to proposed draft legislation, customers will be required to keep invoices of their purchases, because tax inspectors will be entitled to check these invoices even after customers have left the place of purchase. It is not clear yet, what sanctions will result from the absence of an invoice. Details, like the value limit where such measures shall be applicable also need to be worked out. Experts of the food trade say 20-30 per cent of meat, poultry and wine is marketed through illegal channels. The real question is whether customers are likely to tolerate such harassment, or not. Hunting down illegal labourers in farms is not the same as stopping customers leaving the Louis Vuiton store and demanding an invoice from them. Similar raids have already been carried out by tax people in Hajós, the village famous for its wine cellars. Hajós has learned its lesson, tourists are no longer welcome to drop in for a glass of wine, because the threat of an astronomical fine is simply too big for the wine makers. Inspection – even if justified – can kill some legitimate businesses and thus eliminate sources of tax revenue. On the other hand, legal enterprises and even customers may benefit from such a change. Nobody needs the entrepreneurs who sell plums bought for HUF 40 in the fields for 320 in the marketplace.

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