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Flat rate paid versus lunch tickets: CZK 20 billion potential tax fallout

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The government plan to offer a replacement to the current “stravenky,” or lunch ticket system in 2021 has its opponents. The Union of Employer’s Unions (UNIE) has funded a study that brings up large possible drains on the state budgets. The study shows that the state could lose over 20 billion CZK to the new program. Other unions consider the results of the study to be realistic, for example the transport or industry unions.

The Ministry of Finance argues that the methodology of the calculation is flawed, and the state calculates that the program could bring a loss of about 2 billion CZK. The government is planning to launch an alternative to the current lunch ticket system by offering employers to simply give the employees a tax-free daily amount on their monthly wage payments. The reason for the new option is that the oligopoly of the lunch ticket companies charge high commission rates. The estimated hundreds of millions of Crowns in profits are mostly sent out of the country.

The main argument from the group against the new option is that companies and employees will use the program to increase their salaries and payments without proper taxation and surcharge’s attached. In addition, there will be many employers who currently use the tickets and will switch to the flat rate option. Both of these issues will cost the state an estimated 11 and 8.6 billion Crowns a year respectively.

There will be a daily limit, similar to current lunch ticket options. And currently there are many employers who frown upon the costs and administration of the current system. For the self-employed population it is not realistic to take advantage of the tax breaks on lunch tickets for example.

Opinion: Perhaps the Union of Employers should focus on the benefits of the new option in 2021 for business, especially small business. Also, the potential for lower income individuals to have an opportunity to increase their take home pay if their current employer does not offer lunch tickets. Many employers cannot use the current system due to the prohibitive costs and administration.

In larger companies, the flat-rate system could free up labour to invest in more profitable enterprises, such as developing business. The Czech Republic is often debating how to increase productivity and steps such as simplification, rather than trying to push a subsidized food program on the population, is a step in the right direction.

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