Two years after it became mandatory for restaurants in Quebec to install sales recording modules on cash registers, Revenue Quebec is taking aim at bars.
It said putting SRMs in every bar by 2015 will help the government collect an additional $76 million in taxes.
"The nice thing about the sales recording module is that any kind of transaction and every single transaction will be recorded, so for us that's a nice way to fight tax evasion,” said Stéphane Dion of Revenue Quebec.
SRMs are black boxes linked to a computerized cash register that record every item sold. The boxes send the sale information to the Quebec government, and also print receipts with bar codes for customers.
Ziggy Eichenbaum, owner of Ziggy’s Pub on Crescent Street in downtown Montreal, said he saw it coming after Revenue Quebec mandated SRMs for dining establishments. Still, he said he’s not ready for the cost of implementing it.
“A couple of cash registers, which are maybe $5,000 a piece. I need two of them, so it's $10,000,” he said.
With the additional cost of the SRM itself, he said he was looking at an expense of between $25,000 and $30,000.
“Where is that money going to come from?” he asked.
Revenue Quebec said bars will have to pay for the equipment, but that they would offer subsidies to help offset the costs.
Peter Sergakis, president of the Association of Quebec Bar Owners, said he’s fine with the SRMs, but wants the government to help bars stay afloat.
“If the bottle costs $50, we pay $55, so what we are asking the government is to eliminate this surtax on restaurants and bars,” he said.