Péter Barta

The rules for shop closures are tightening, and next year, those who violate invoice or receipt obligations may not necessarily get away with just a warning. Considering that even a few weeks of closure can cause significant damage to a company's life, it is advisable for businesses to tighten their processes and supervision of their employees.

When does the lock come?

Shop closure is one of the most striking and feared elements of the tax penalty system. Shop closure may occur if the taxpayer fails to report an employee, trades in goods of unverified origin, does not comply with invoice and receipt obligations, or violates obligations related to the mandatory use and operation of cash registers.

Suspending sales for weeks or even a few months can already have a significant impact on any business. However, the main risk of shop closure lies in its conspicuous manifestation: the tax authority seal – a stamped entrance – is a measure that, in addition to revenue loss, can lead to serious loss of trust and thus persistent decline in demand. Moreover, shop closure also entails a hazardous tax offender qualification, leading the business to face additional disadvantages among its business partners.

What is changing?

According to the current rules, if a company is caught violating receipt obligations for the first time, it can get away with just a warning, a “yellow card”. Currently, the tax authority can only order shop closure if the business commits this offense for the second time within a year (i.e., fails to issue a receipt or invoice for the second time). Furthermore, even on the second occasion, it depends on the auditor's discretion whether the gravity of the offense justifies ordering shop closure.

However, under the new rules coming into effect, a red card can be issued for the first offense of neglecting receipt issuance, and shop closure can be ordered even if the business is caught for the first time in the offense.

Continued violation is still subject to the same legal sanction: while shop closure for the first offense depends on the tax authority's discretion, showing the red card becomes mandatory in repeated cases. It is worth noting that this strictness has already applied in other cases of shop closure (i.e., if someone was caught employing an unreported person, closure could occur even on the first occasion), so only failure to give a receipt could get you off with a "wink-wink" for the first time.

The mandatory duration of shop closure remains unchanged: 12 days for the first offense, 30 days for the second, and 60 days for every subsequent case. The duration of closure is still not a matter of discretion; the law dictates it, and the auditor is not authorized to reduce it.

What should be done?

To ensure that the business does not slip into shop closure (or any other sanction) even out of negligence, it is advisable to carefully monitor the receipt and invoicing process. Additionally, greater emphasis should be placed on supervising and training individuals acting on behalf of the company, as even a single offense can have fatal consequences. It is important for employees to be fully aware of legal requirements and the practices of the tax authority. For example, a common mistake is that the salesperson at the counter issues the receipt but does not hand it over to the customer. It's not obvious, but this also constitutes a failure to fulfill the receipt issuance obligation.