Eateries hiding cash sales

A two-year probe of the restaurant industry in Canada has uncovered at least $40 million in “phantom” cash sales so far, says the Canada Revenue Agency.

OTTAWA — A two-year probe of the restaurant industry in Canada has uncovered at least $40 million in “phantom” cash sales so far, says the Canada Revenue Agency.

And the amount of hidden cash income — with no taxes paid — will likely be much higher once the pilot project concludes in March, officials say.

Agency auditors are swooping in on restaurants across the country to determine whether their electronic cash registers contain illegal software that can selectively delete sales from official accounting records.

So-called zappers and phantom-ware have been around since at least the mid-1990s, but prosecutions have been few and far between.

The Canada Revenue Agency launched a two-year pilot project in 2008 to better focus its investigations into the so-called “electronic suppression of sales,” or ESS, by sending in teams to selected establishments to ferret out hidden software in cash-register systems.

Before the pilot began, the agency had identified 11 such cases — and has since found others, though a spokeswoman would not provide details. The new cases have been referred to enforcement officers.

“Preliminary work indicates that ESS is prevalent across Canada,” Caitlin Workman said in an email.

“These are ongoing investigations, and the CRA has identified additional businesses using electronic sales suppression.”

Once the pilot is complete in March and the level of fraud better estimated, the agency will launch the next enforcement phase, she added. Restaurants were chosen in the first phase because of the high volume of cash sales.

Workman declined to indicate how agency auditors can determine whether cash sales have been hidden or deleted on computer systems, saying it could jeopardize investigations.

The Quebec government estimates cheats in that province cost their treasury $425 million in 2007-2008.

Just Posted

Red Deer group looking to keep roads safe for cyclists

A Red Deer cycling group is concerned about road safety after multiple… Continue reading

Smoke and pets do not mix

Take care of your pets during the smoky weather

Former Red Deer lawyer sentenced

Charges included possession of stolen property

Man causes mischief with axe in Ponoka

Arson and attempted break and enter charges laid

WATCH: Raising money for kids at the Gord Bamford Charity Golf Classic

Former NHL players, Olympians, pro rodeo circuit members and musicians teed off… Continue reading

Oilpatch fears delays as U.S. judge orders further review of KXL pipeline route

CALGARY — Potential delays in the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline… Continue reading

‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin dies at 76

NEW YORK — Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul” who sang… Continue reading

Arrests in Burnaby, B.C., as order against Kinder Morgan protest camp enforced

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters Thursday as officers enforced a… Continue reading

‘Hot and dirty work:’ Commander describes fighting massive Ontario wildfire

BRITT, Ont. — From a helicopter flying over a smouldering swath of… Continue reading

Calgary Fire Department logs record opioid overdose calls in July

CALGARY — The Calgary Fire Department says there were a record number… Continue reading

RCMP in Burnaby, B.C., say Kinder Morgan protest camp to be dismantled

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters when officers enforced a court… Continue reading

Study: Smokers better off quitting, even with weight gain

NEW YORK — If you quit smoking and gain weight, it may… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month