Revolution in the hotel and catering industry: the cash register

As from 1 January 2013 the hotel and catering industry is obliged to issue a simplified invoice. For some operators there is also to obligation to work with a cash register. Since the execution decrees were late, the implementation of the regulation was somewhat postponed.

To who the obligations apply?

The obligation to issue a simplified invoice applies to all hotel and catering businesses which offer “food and drink to be consumed on the spot”. When the turnover of your business is covered for at least 10% by the supply of food to be consumed on the spot, you are also obliged to use a registered cash register.

The existing cash registers will expire. If you still use an old system, it will have to be adapted. This means: (1) if you exceed the 10% threshold acquiring a new registered cash register or (2) if you are below the 10% threshold switch to VAT notes.

How to calculate the 10%?

Whether your turnover exists for at least 10% out of supplying food, is calculated by means of the following fraction:

numerator: the turnover of meals to be consumed on the spot. This means that takeaway meals should not be taken into consideration for the numerator. As an exception, breakfast for hotel guests should neither be taken into consideration.

denominator: total turnover for the hotel and catering business, including the lease of party halls, lodging, drinks, ..

Note that catering companies now also fall within the scope of this regulation. This means: supplying takeaway meals is not part of the numerator, but is part of the denominator. When supplying takeaway meals is (almost) the sole activity, the 10% threshold will not be exceeded, thus the use of the registered cash register is not obliged.

The turnover to be taken into account for the fraction is the turnover of the previous calendar year. This is called the reference period. Starters (which do not have a reference year) should use an estimate.

The obligation is general and continuous

Once you are obliged to use the registered cash register, this obligation applies for all your transactions. This means that you will also have to use the registered cash register for drinks and takeaway meals.

Additionally the rule applies “once obliged, always obliged”. In other words: when during year x you obtained at least 10% of your turnover of meals to be consumed on the spot, you should use the registered cash register as from year x+1 and you should continue to do so in year x+2, x+3, .. until you stop your activity. Even if during year x+2 you only obtain 7% of your turnover from meals to be consumed on the spot, the use of the registered cash registered remains obligatory.

Technical problems

With such cash register technical troubles may occur. You should take this into consideration and keep your bills and receipts on the location of the cash register.

When there are indeed technical failures, you should take the necessary action:

inform your competent VAT office within one hour - only in case of force majeure you have 24 hours;

issue a bill or receipt for the transactions for which you normally would issue a cash register ticket.

When the technical issues are solved, you should again inform the tax authorities (your local VAT office). You will send an email with the following information:

date and time when the problem was solved;

number of bills and receipts issued in the meantime;

start and end numbers of these bills and receipts.

In case of a limited disturbance it is sufficient to send one email to report the start and the end of the problem and the above information.

Should you already prepare yourself?

If you operate a hotel and catering business and falls within the said obligations, you should register through a web application of the tax authorities. The tax authorities will provide further information at a later stage.

In the meantime the discussion and uncertainty about this system has started again. The explanatory circular letter which was published by the tax authorities in June, was revoked (temporarily) in October. It is unclear what the consequences are. It is even possible that the system will not enter into force on 1 July 2013. Other possible date now is even 1 January 2014.
In any case, you better be prepared for what is coming.
We will keep you informed on the further evolution.