Receipts are your Evidence!

December 18, 2015

All consumers are looking forward to 1 January 2016, with 6% VAT reduction coming into effect in the New Year. This means consumers can expect to pay lesser for wide range of goods and services with the reforms in the country’s taxation system (VAT reduction from 15% to 9%)

We expect to see price drops in restaurant services (as prices of groceries will drop), entertainment, spare parts, utilities, household goods such as furniture, hair and beauty salon services, car  repair costs, construction services and other services we use on a daily basis. We also look forward to decreases in the prices of fuel and LPG gas (apart from kerosene) by virtue of the reduction in VAT. Parents and students can envisage a reduction in prices of stationery, uniforms, bags, shoes and water bottles for the next school year.

However, the question is how will you know whether the items you are buying has reduced in price? One way to know this is through your receipts. The Council is requesting consumers to retain all their receipts as evidence to ascertain whether the reduction in VAT over goods and services has passed on to them or not.

The consumers are prompted to increase vigilance since they are the ones on the ground, shopping. Hence, they are urged to understand the importance of keeping their receipts which will support their claims that the price has not changed despite the necessary VAT and Duty reductions.

Consumers must be responsible and organize themselves when it comes to proper filing of their receipts. There will be many receipts in a day per family but the consumers have to take the initiative of preserving this crucial information.

Receipt is a proof of purchase that contains all important information which contains the particulars of your purchases.  The particulars in the receipt consists of: the invoice/receipt number, the place of purchase, the descriptions and cost of all items, date and time they were purchased, the cashier or sales person who served the consumer and the total amount that was paid for the goods and services including any discounts.

When a consumer has grievances against a trader on any purchases made, the receipt is provided by the consumer the appropriate authority to seek redress from the trader. Pursuing redressal mechanisms without any evidence will be an exercise in futility.

Consumers are encouraged to demand receipts if the trader fails to issue one. The traders and service-providers must ensure that they issue proper receipts to consumers upon any purchase.

Receipts are a requirement as per Regulation (7) of the Value Added Tax Regulations 1991 which states: “Notwithstanding any other regulation, a supplier shall not unless requested by the recipient be required to provide a tax invoice if the consideration in money for a supply does not exceed ten dollars or such amount as the Minister may from time to time, by Legal Notice declare”.

For goods and service above $10, retailers or service providers are required by law to issue receipts to consumers. For any purchases below the sum of $10, a consumer has a right to demand for a receipt if it is not provided.

Some consumers often raise concerns over the quality of the receipts, such as receipts fading  away only after a few days or purchase.  

The Council conducted a snap survey and found out that most supermarkets opt for bond paper for their cash registers to print receipts. Unfortunately, this sort of paper has a life span of only three weeks. The bigger issue at hand is that there are no standards in place for traders to ensure that they provide good quality paper and ink, which are durable in different weather conditions.

One must remember that the burden lies on the consumers to preserve the receipts, which can help them seek redress if and when they are misled and hoodwinked by the unscrupulous traders or service providers.

Here are some tips to consider to retain receipts safely:

  • Make soft copies of your receipts: Most consumers have handy mobile phones with cameras. Thus, they are urged to take pictures of receipts upon any purchase of goods and servicesConsumers can also scan the reciepts if they happen to have scanners or other suitable equipment that can be used for scanning and keep records of the same. Taking pictures of your receipts or scanning them would ensure that all the particulars of the receipts are still visible and readable. Ensure to create folders to have a filing system.
  • Photocopy: Make photocopies of the receipts before they fade and are unreadable. Ensure that you also have a filing system and a folder to keep these receipts.
  • Document your receipts: Once a month by using a digital or hard-print spreadsheet, consumers can write down the nature of the receipt and the amount. Doing this once a month will make one a lot less cluttered. Consumers are a lot more likely to remember the nature of a particular receipt if it is documented 20 days after the transaction as opposed to 11 months later.

The Council is strongly advising consumers to hold onto all receipts of purchases to compare pre and post national budget prices. Remember, this will enable consumers to cross check and identify perpetrators who have not reduced their VAT to 9%. Consumers must also act responsibly and take initiatives in lodging complaints against traders and service providers who are found in breach of the national laws, as far as passing of VAT and Duty reduction is concerned. They can seek assistance and/or lodge complaints to the Consumer Council of Fiji, Fiji Commerce Commission (FCC) or Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority (FRCA).