Olomouc tax office under fire for harassing newlyweds

Photo: archive of Radio Prague

The Olomouc tax office has come under fire for asking close to one hundred newlywed couples to provide financial details regarding their wedding feast and number of guests who attended. The case has thrown a negative light on the law on electronic cash registers which has already been criticized by the opposition for invading people’s privacy and putting an excessive administrative burden on entrepreneurs.

Photo: archive of Radio Prague
The law on electronic cash registers, the Finance Ministry’s flagship measure against tax evasion, has seen a lot of criticism since it was introduced in a phased-out process in 2017 and this particular case is grist to the mill of its critics.

According to the news site Podnikatel.cz the Olomouc Tax Office requested the city authorities for information on all weddings held in a given period and asked the newlyweds to provide information regarding the cost of their wedding feast and the number of guests who attended. According to the news site such a request was also sent to newlyweds who had a modest family celebration in their own homes.

The news caused a scandal and legal experts said the office had blatantly overstepped its powers. The head of the central tax office promptly sent auditors to Olomouc as Finance Minister Alena Schillerová tried to smooth ruffled feathers, telling journalists that such behavior was unacceptable, this was not what the law on electronic cash registers was intended for and indicating that heads would roll over the uncalled-for initiative of the Olomouc tax office.

The local office said it had acted on the grounds of information received from citizens which pointed to repeated violations of the law on the part of some restaurant owners, who would close their restaurants for a private party, but reported no profit on that day.

A debate on the issue flared up in the lower house as well when opposition politicians demanded an explanation from the finance minister. Minister Schillerová said that while the tax office was entitled to request information regarding the place of the wedding feast and how it had been paid for, such a request would have to be amply justified. She said she had been shocked to find that the office had not contacted one wedded couple, but 95. She said she expected a more sensitive and rational approach in the future.