Tax cheats?
April 25, 2005 12:50 PM   Subscribe

A number of restaurants in my neighborhood have under-rung my purchases (each) more than once.

My naive understanding of this is that when management is aware of the practice, they are trying to minimize receipts in order to cheat on their taxes. When management isn't in on it, an employee is pocketing the overage. First, is my interpretation correct? Second, should I give a damn? Third, assuming you answered "yes" to #2, what should I do about it?
posted by Kwantsar to Shopping (11 answers total)
Personally, I'd decline to pay anything more than the rung in price and be done with it. Either they ring your purchases through correctly, or you pay less, their choice. I wouldn't get involved in some vigilante attempt to correct their tax or employer cheating behaviour.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:02 PM on April 25, 2005

Well, as far as caring about the business owner screwing the tax collector: If you care about the state of schools, fire/police/rescue, road conditions, clean drinking water, etc. I'd think you should care about the business covering their fair share. If you really care about the issue, make a compaint to the IRS or the city department of business licenses.
posted by pwb503 at 1:08 PM on April 25, 2005

I wouldn't get involved in some vigilante attempt to correct their tax or employer cheating behaviour.

Me neither, tho no one can tell you whether you should or not.
posted by ori at 1:12 PM on April 25, 2005

Cheating on taxes does end up costing everyone else money. Also, if you report the restaurant, and the taxing authority ends up assessing them more taxes, you usually get a percentage of what the government collects. The likelihood that a complaint to the taxing authority will lead to an actual investigation is not very large, however, and the likelihood that it will lead to actual collections and a reward is smaller still.

Whether you care is a personal decision. If you want to do something about it, you should make a note of dates on which it happens, as well as the amount you were charged and the amount that was rung up, and send a letter to the local IRS office as well as the office for your state department of revenue.

The IRS site has info on reporting suspected tax fraud here.
posted by anapestic at 1:18 PM on April 25, 2005

If the idea of taking a reward for turning someone in seems unpleasant to you, you don't have to accept it, of course.
posted by anapestic at 1:32 PM on April 25, 2005

This has never happened to me. However, I would suggest that you make sure this is what's going on (as opposed to an honest mistake or misunderstanding) before you make it a vigilante mission. People just love to find wrongdoing, even when it's not for real (having worked at fast food, there have been times I've had to literally pocket company money until I ring up another order, for example, since I couldn't open the register without ringing something up, and people love to accuse you of stealing when that happens, let me tell you).

I also don't foresee any way this will result in tax money being correctly appropriated. Assuming it's not a mistake/misunderstanding, if it's an employee stealing, the employee will be fired, end of story; if it's a company policy, the company will still tell the IRS that it's an employee stealing, the/an employee will be fired, and a new employee will be hired in (a company engaging in such practices is bound to have pretty high turnover, anyway).
posted by dagnyscott at 1:41 PM on April 25, 2005

Are you sure you aren't getting a neighborhood discount? There are a few restaurants and bars around my work and home which usually give me a random percentage off, for being someone they see on the streets... Or maybe a cashier is hitting on you?
posted by mrs.pants at 2:40 PM on April 25, 2005

Are you paying the under-rung amount, or are you paying more?
posted by mischief at 2:45 PM on April 25, 2005

Wait; if your purchase is under rung, how do you know?
Are you paying the total on the receipt given to you?
Or, are you looking at a menu price then being charged a cheaper price with matching receipt?
Almost sounds like you are reading the prices off the delivery menu which may have higher prices.
Then again if you’re saying sometimes you pay an x amount for item #1. Then the next time pay a less or more amount for #1 and adding each time you’re are give a matching receipt. You may be a victim of poor cashiering.

Some fast food restaurants ask to call a phone # if your paid price does not match your receipt. Think they also offer $5 if you find a cash discrepancy.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:26 PM on April 25, 2005

I kind of agree with mrs.pants, if you're only paying the rung-up amount. When I cashiered at a bookstore, I would sometimes give people discounts (or "accidentally" not ring up an item) if they seemed cool, or cute, or I liked what they were buying.
posted by j3s at 4:15 PM on April 25, 2005

Probably not exactly on point, but one trick used by some wait staff is to omit an item from your bill. Of course you only pay what the bill says, but the staff person hopes that you'll be more generous in tipping (since you got a bargain on your bill, of course, and because at some level you might appreciate the "bargain" that you've implicitly struck).

Or, as noted above, they may think you're cute.
posted by WestCoaster at 8:10 PM on April 25, 2005

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