Defaulting restaurants face stiff action

Owners and managers of restaurants, which are found guilty of concealing income, not remitting Income Tax and GST returns, will come to grief as the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) prepares to ‘visit’ them shortly.

IRD Community Relationships Advisor Abdul Rafik warned that IRD was paying close attention to the hospitality industry.

“Owners, managers and employees of cafes, restaurants, motels and hotels should ensure that they pay their tax regularly and do not conceal income. IRD will visit several establishments this year,” he said.

His regular column appears under Businesslink on Page 12 in this issue.

It is an unfortunate reality that a number of establishments perpetrating fraud in this industry are owned and managed by people of Indian origin. According to an official source, “there are a few well-known people who pay cash as salaries to their employees to avoid PAYE payments.”

“We have their names and they will be brought to justice,” the source said.

According to another source, many restaurant and motel owners misuse and abuse students and people on visit visas by making them work long hours and underpaying them.

“Students are not allowed to work more than 20 hours a week when they are attending the courses for which they were provided student visas and any breach would be considered illegal. Visitors are not permitted to take up employment while on visit visas,” the source said.

Mr Rafik confirmed that IRD investigators were spreading their net over businesses in the hospitality industry that pay wages ‘under the table’.

“Not only are these non-compliant businesses evading tax, they are also able to undercut the honest businesses that are paying the right amount of tax,” he said.

Indian Newslink columnist Ram Rai, who was in the hospitality and food business for several years, said that new and potential migrants were among those exploited most in this country.

“Many have approached me with tales of being overworked and underpaid. The constant complaint is that they are compelled to work up to 60 hours but paid only for 40 hours, the maximum allowed under the law.

“Many businesses make international students work as waiters, cooks and cleaners for 40 hours a week but pay them for just 20 hours – the maximum these students are allowed to work while they are studying,” he said.

IRD is aware that all such workers do not get any other entitlements, including time-off for additional hours of work or holiday pay.

Most of them suffer in silence for fear of either losing their jobs or being deported. They remain victims, encouraging unscrupulous employers to continue their illegal and immoral behaviour.

If you are a victim of such fraudulent employers or know of someone being victimised, write to us and we will help you to connect with the officials in the Department. Email: editor@indiannewslink.co.nz

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