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Swedish tax authorities target market traders

Sweden has a surprising number of market traders. These make life difficult for the tax authorities trying to collect value added tax (MOMS), and they are now proposing that all market traders should get themselves a proper approved cash register and issue receipts to customers.

The difficulty is that, first, approved cash registers are expensive, second, they need an electricity supply, and third, if they were going to be used in outdoor markets, they would need to be able to stand up to wind, rain, snow, dust and the general abuse they would get in these situations.

So here is another suggestion. Most markets are held on land owned by the local authority. So instead of asking for traders to charge MOMS, they could be declared official MOMS-free areas. Annual licenses for each of the trading pitches would be bid for by public auction, perhaps on-line. The revenue would then be shared between the local authority and central government. What would be the result? The market traders would end up charging a little bit less than the regular, inclusive of VAT, shop prices. There is no reason why they would charge any less. The tax authorities would end up with the same revenue as if they had collected their MOMS in the usual way, or possibly more. They would not have to worry about cheating, and both the tax authorities and the traders would save the cost of administration. All that would be necessary would be for the traders to display their licenses on their stalls, so that the market inspectors could check their validity.