WRA Condemns Use of ‘Zapper’ Technology Featured on KIRO TV

WRA Condemns Use of ‘Zapper’ Technology Featured on KIRO TV

Tax evaders must be prosecuted for any retail tax evasion – not just restaurants

OLYMPIA —Washington Restaurant Association (WRA) President Anthony Anton reaffirmed the association’s condemnation of malicious ‘zapping’ software used to erase cash sales from restaurant cash registers, in the wake of a story aired Thursday by KIRO TV. In a note to members, Anton outlined the four key takeaways from the report:

  1. WRA opposes tax evasion practices and supports the Department of Revenue (DOR) and Attorney General’s office in their prosecution of those found breaking the law.
  2. The association also condemns the use of zapper technology by any business to avoid taxes.
  3. WRA supported and was actively involved with the DOR in 2013 to create the law making use of the software illegal.
  4. Washington Restaurants proudly contribute more than $800 million in sales tax to the state. Based on our ongoing work with the Department of Revenue, we find it difficult to believe the inflated estimate in lost sales tax revenues from restaurants in the KIRO story and look forward to the Department providing more accurate estimates.

“The vast majority of restaurants in Washington state follow the law and contributed over $12 billion in sales last year to the state’s economy,” said Anton. “I want to reaffirm our contempt for those who break the law and reiterate that we do not support this activity, which affects the entire retail industry, not just restaurants. The overwhelming majority of our members operate within the highest ethical and legal standards,” he said.

“The Washington Restaurant Association has actively aided the DOR in its investigation of the use of automated sales suppression device or ‘zappers’ since the legislation was introduced in 2013.  And the DOR has been clear that there are a broad range of businesses that have been found using this software,” added Anton.

“We do not support anyone using ‘zapper’ technology and have actively worked with the Department of Revenue and the Legislature to ensure this practice is illegal. If there are businesses found using this software, we are in full support of their being penalized. We agree with DOR, it is unfair to characterize this as just a restaurant industry issue. It can be found anywhere customers use cash,” he said.

The law, created in 2013 through Senate Bill 5715, imposes a class C felony on those who commit tax fraud using “zappers” to erase cash sales from cash registers so retailers can avoid reporting sales tax they collect from customers. The software can also be used to avoid paying business and occupation tax, commit employment tax fraud and corporate embezzlement. WRA staff worked closely with the DOR in the creation and passage of this legislation.

“We do not support or protect restaurants found to be using this illegal software. We also believe it is unfair to characterize this as an issue affecting only restaurants. Any retail transactions are at risk for this kind of activity, not just restaurants,” said Anton.

“The WRA says it remains committed to working with the DOR and Attorney General Bob Ferguson on their investigations, keeping communication open and getting accurate estimates of impact so that we can address these situations swiftly and properly.”