A pizza coming out of the oven in central Helsinki in June 2015. Auditors at the Finnish Tax Administration have discovered fairly widespread financial wrongdoings at kebab and pizza restaurants, including some five million euros worth of unpaid taxes. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)

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AUDITORS at the Finnish Tax Administration have detected widespread financial wrongdoing in kebab and pizza restaurants.

The Tax Administration on Tuesday reported that its intense monitoring campaign, launched in the spring of last year, has discovered millions of euros in unpaid taxes, unreported sales proceeds and unsound accounting practices.

The campaign has so far comprised 174 tax audits at restaurants, leading to the lodging of criminal complaints against roughly 40 operators and the consideration of criminal complaints against 114 operators. The restaurants have additionally been ordered to pay approximately five million euros in overdue taxes.

Tarja Valsi, a deputy director at the Tax Administration, said the findings of the campaign largely align with those of previous monitoring campaigns in the restaurant industry.

“All sales proceeds may have been entered into the register as cash sales, but the company is not in possession of the amount of cash it should be according to the accounting. On the other hand, we have also found cases where cash sales were missing entirely or missing for a several-month period from accounting,” she said in a press release on Tuesday.

The auditors also discovered cases where invoice sales were missing from accounting, cases where sales made through food delivery services were missing from accounting and cases where the payment terminal had not been connected to the register.

Discrepancies were also detected in the cash flow of businesses, including between the number of reported card payments and transactions in the bank account, according to Valsi.

Although the monitoring campaign has thus far focused especially on restaurants in Pirkanmaa, Southwest Finland and Uusimaa, audits have been carried out in restaurants across Finland. The campaign will continue until the end of the year.

Timo Lappi, the managing director of the Finnish Hospitality Association (Mara), on Tuesday said to Helsingin Sanomat that the wrongdoings detected during the campaign are serious.

“The Tax Administration is doing valuable work by looking into this negligence. Restaurants like these also don’t comply with working hours laws and don’t make their pension or social security contributions. We’re talking about stealing from the state and employees. These kinds of companies also distort competition between restaurants,” he remarked.

Mara has estimated that the shadow economy makes up around 8–10 per cent of revenue in the restaurant industry, meaning the state is losing out on tax revenue on about 500 million euros in proceeds every year.

“It’s very important that we have effective legislation and authorities who address these problems. Although the Tax Administration has now uncovered about five million euros in unpaid taxes, this has a preventative impact,” viewed Lappi.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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