Mehrwertsteuer (VAT) on restaurant food

23 posts in this topic

Posted

I occasionally have a fast-food craving that I sometimes satisfy at the Burger King's franchise at Frankfurt Airport's terminal 2. I have noticed that even when I tell them I am eating the food in the restaurant (and I am given a tray to take your food to a table and consume the food on the premises, which confirms they've understood me) my receipt lists the applicable VAT for the food as 7% (19% for beverages). This was not a one off. I've eaten there three times and all three times the 7% VAT rate was applied, so it doesn't look like a case of the server hitting the wrong button once by accident. It rather looks like the restaurant processing all orders as 'take away' for tax purposes regardless of whether they are eat-in or bona fide take-away.

 

My understanding is that restaurant food consumed on the premises attracts the higher VAT rate of 19%, while food bought in a supermarket--or in a restaurant but consumed elsewhere--attracts the lower 7% rate. Are there any exceptions, such as at airports? This BB franchise is located before security, but after passport control at Frankfurt Airport's T2. They don't ask to see your boarding pass when you order (such as when buying duty free items to check whether your destination is inside or outside the EU).

 

This looks like tax fraud to me, or am I missing something?

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Posted

First thought:

 

post-47703-1399196223908.jpg

 

Second thought:

 

Burger King has lots of problems right now

 

Third thought;

 

If it really bothers you, write a note to the Frankfurt Finanzamt. If they care, they'll send someone by in plainclothes to make a test purchase.

 

Good luck, and May the Fourth be with you.

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Posted

Thanks for your thoughts, EJ.

 

Just trying to understand what's going on out of sheer curiosity. As far as I can see it's either:

 

(1) There's some reason in the convoluted German tax system that allows them to do this.

 

I'd be curious to know why if this is the case.

 

(2) They are committing tax evasion and not making much of an effort to hide it.

 

Would this bother me? A bit. I guess most people wouldn't be bothered if their local dirt-cheap, hole-in-the-wall, family-owned take-out joint books the right VAT or even gives out receipts at all. If it's a multinational corporation that's doing this, I'd think most law-abiding tax payers would be a bit annoyed about it.

 

Would I like to snitch? I don't know. Maybe. But if I did, I wouldn't want to make a fool of myself by falsely accusing a corporation of tax fraud just because I don't understand the rules.

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Posted

No, you understand it correctly, and if they really do that, it's tax fraud.

 

McDonald's got nicked for doing it systematically almost a decade ago, so it wouldn't surprise me at all if Burger King (or at least individual franchise operators) were doing it now - especially in light of the cost pressures they seem to be facing currently.

 

I guess they figure anyone who eats at the airport BK either isn't going to notice or is leaving the country.

 

By all means, please send a note to the Finanzamt with your observations. I'm sure someone here (if not me) would be happy to help you translate it into German, too. They really will send one or more test buyers to the "restaurant" to gather evidence.

 

You're right: tax fraud by a multinational corporation, or even a representative of one, shouldn't be taken lightly. Sorry if my previous post was flippant.

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Posted

I don't think I understand this thread. You seem to be upset that you aren't paying more for your cardboard :S

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Posted

Eating cardboard isn't against the law in Germany, but evading taxes (levying the wrong tax) is...

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Posted

 

I don't think I understand this thread. You seem to be upset that you aren't paying more for your cardboard :S

 

That's not it at all. For simplicity sake, say the burger price is 1€. They charge you 19% tax and the restaurant sends 0,19€ to the Finanzamt and BK keeps 0,81€. But if they claim you were taking the burger out and they charged you the 7% tax, they send 0,07€ to the FA and they keep 0,93€. So they are keeping 0,12€ that they are not supposed to. An easy way to make extra profit but it's fraud.

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Posted

Hi, Garyh911,

 

Attention, German Smartass at large...

 

 

For simplicity sake, say the burger price is 1€. They charge you 19% tax and the restaurant sends 0,19€ to the Finanzamt and BK keeps 0,81€. But if they claim you were taking the burger out and they charged you the 7% tax, they send 0,07€ to the FA and they keep 0,93€. So they are keeping 0,12€ that they are not supposed to. An easy way to make extra profit but it's fraud.

You grasped the general idea, but your math doesn't work out.

 

Let's assume somebody buys a burger - advertised as a 1€ deal - to go, then the sales staff will press the "to go" button and the cash register will calculate 1€/1.07 = 0.9346€ as sales price of the burger, and 6.54 cent as tax.

 

If the same burger is ordered to "sit down and eat here", the sales staff will press the "service" button and the cash register will calculate 1€/1.19 = 0.8403€ as sales price of the burger, and 15.97 cent as tax.

 

You caught exactly where the rip off is, but think about your calculation: If you buy spare parts for your car worth 100€... One is easily drawn to the conclusion that the tax included in the price is 19€, but it isn't, it is just (100€ - 100€/1.19) = 15.97€.

 

Anyway, it is tax fraud to calculate a catering service as a food sale, and if they get caught doing so, they've got a problem...

 

Cheers

Franklan

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Posted

It seems a bit strange that the restaurant makes more money out of take aways than sit down, when the take aways consume less resources, whereas the sitdowns consume tables and chairs. Is there a logic there?

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Posted

Hi MadAxeMurderer,

 

 

It seems a bit strange that the restaurant makes more money out of take aways than sit down, when the take aways consume less resources, whereas the sitdowns consume tables and chairs. Is there a logic there?

Indead, it is strange, but the tax laws are: 7% on food sale, 19% on catering service.

 

As the large fast food chains do not want to advertise different (final consumer) prices for service or for food sale, they go for the eye catcher prices of "1€" and let the cash register do the math.

 

Smaller "Frittenbuden" tend to have price tags on the fridges like "Bitburger zum hiertrinken = 1.30€, Bitburger zum mitnehmen 1€". At least where I am, I am not sure about how this is handled in other regions in D.

 

Cheers

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Posted

Because at the airport you can sit anywhere you like and there are no physical walls, everything is classed as takeaway. Tax departments are quite strict on those rules so are accountants at large takeaways.

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Posted

 

As the large fast food chains do not want to advertise different (final consumer) prices for service or for food sale, they go for the eye catcher prices of "1€" and let the cash register do the math.

 

Smaller "Frittenbuden" tend to have price tags on the fridges like "Bitburger zum hiertrinken = 1.30€, Bitburger zum mitnehmen 1€". At least where I am, I am not sure about how this is handled in other regions in D.

 

Ahh, now I get it. I assumed the customer-facing price would be different, which is why I didn't understand why a customer would be complaining.

I've learnt a lot today, and it isn't even 9 a.m.

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Posted

I am in a snitch kind of mood today and I decided to write this note, which I might send to the FA if the mood continues. May I propose a find-as-many-mistakes-as-possible-in-this text competition? I am sure there are plenty. Greens will be awarded as prizes to the best efforts.

 

Many thanks:

 

Sehr geehrten Damen u. Herren,

ich bin mehrmals Gast beim Burger King Fast-Food-Restaurant im Terminal 2, Bereich D, Ebene 3 des Frankfurter Flughafens. Jedes mal habe ich bewundert, dass der auf dem Beleg ausgewiesenen Mehrwertsteuer der verzehrteten Lebensmittel als 7% dargestellt wird. Meinem Verständnis nach, werden in den Gaststätten konsumierten Lebensmittel mit einem Mehrwertsteuersatz von 19% belastet. Da ich immer ausdrücklich erwähne, dass meine Bestellung als „hier Essen“ zu behandeln ist, frage ich mich, ob das Restaurant zu Unrecht alle Speisen gleichartig ansieht bzgl. des Mehrwertsteuers.

Die Sache lasse ich ihnen weiterzuverfolgen sollte Interesse ihrerseits bestehen.

MfG…

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Posted

The main error in the text is sitting 30cm away from it.

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Posted

I'm not German, but at the risk of sticking my neck out, I think "Jedes mal (Bei jedem Besuch) hat es mich gewundert, dass..." may be more correct and "Mehrwertsteuer" is feminine (die Steuer). I think you'll find also that it's "Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,..."

Good on you for giving it a shot though :-)

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Posted

I think you are not supposed use the abbreviation MfG but to spell it out. As I was told that in my current somewhere between B1 and B2 class, anything I say about the German language should be taken with an enormous grain of salt. Needless to say, the rest of the letter goes right over my head at this hour of night!!

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Posted

I'm sure the tax office with Burger King has worked out the number of seats BK has, Then given a certain time to eat the meal how many people could eat in the restaurant at the time with 75% of the seats full. After all how many restaurants do BK and Mac Donald's own never mind the 100's of Kebab shops in Germany. They are then happy to give a percentage of the sales at the high rate and low rate.

The tax office is also incredibly careful not to overcharge the 7% and I have benefited from this where I paid 19% on a container of artwork as advised by my broker. Customs pulled the container checking the artwork and said I only had to pay 7%. They could not punish people for undercharging mistakes if they overcharged tax themselves so to there credit are very careful.

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Posted

Or you could just Google the tax advise.

 

Steuer auf Essen zum Mitnehmen Berechnung

 

The key is that the plates and containers are primarily packaging function. 19 percent VAT is payable on the other hand, if the party Service in addition the buffet havoc, festive décor and crockery, cutlery, glasses, etc. provide in greater numbers. If the catering but only disposable crockery and cutlery supplied, which must also be disposed by the client, falling only seven percent VAT.

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Posted

I used to work with a dude who always asked for and checked his receipt at BK for this very reason, just begging to catch someone in the act. To my knowledge, he never did. I was just hoping he wouldn't catch someone on the few occasions I was with him.

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