We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

The Finnish tax police want a pizza the action.

If reports are true, the Finnish tax police want the public to report anyone selling a take-away pizza for less than €6.

“Unless a pizza is on temporary sale there is no way a legitimate establishment can offer pizza for less than six euros,” Det Insp Minna Immonen of the Uusimaa police department is quoted as saying.

So they have calculated that it is not possible to remain in business selling pizza for less than that price, and still pay the 12% VAT.

12% VAT? What a pleasantly low rate, here in the UK it is 20% for almost everything. I will not be diverted onto a discussion as to what is standard or zero-rated, except to note that on learning that horse semen is subject to normal VAT but bull semen is zero-rated (effectively exempt) as in most of Europe horses are not ‘food’, I decided that whoever made that ruling in Brussels bloody well deserved that to be their legacy.

However, the intrusion is greater, you should get a receipt for your pizza, so Finland has joined Italy as a place where every transaction (even a 1€ cup of coffee or Sachertorte in Venice) leads to a receipt being printed at the till, for fear of the Tax Police.

Police are trying to crack down on the “grey economy”, which costs the country millions of euros in lost tax revenue each year. They also want people to make sure they get a receipt for their pizzas, regardless of value.

We all surely know that the ‘country’ is in fact ‘the State’, and those millions of Euros of lost revenue go on to lead happy, productive lives in the private sector in the hands of their owners. It is a sorry state of affairs when price signals are used by tax authorities to go looking for suspects, rather than customers for bargains, perhaps the tipping point from a tolerably free society to an unpleasant one. I do recall the Sage of Kettering remarking years ago that someone had calculated that no business could carry on in New York City if it followed all the regulations that apply to it.

Still, this has generated some scorn, so that is a positive sign.

22 comments to The Finnish tax police want a pizza the action.

  • Having tried the food in Helsinki, I’d say 6 Euros for a pizza is vastly overpriced. Honestly, the Finns even managed to fuck up German food. I finally found a tiny Italian joint in the front room of a house where the chef/owner was a small swarthy man who spoke excitedly and waved his hands around. I bet he doesn’t pay much tax.

  • Mr Ed

    I was last in Helsinki in the early 1990s, Inter-Railing, and the only things that I could afford to eat on my £10 a day budget were smoked salmon and mackerel. I suppose 60,000 lakes (if you don’t count the small ones) and the Baltic did wonders for fish prices in Finland. I did get to see Mannerheim’s statue though, with that and the Cathedral seemingly being the only things worth seeing east of Turku/Åbo.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes – if someone obeys all the regulations and pays all the taxes in New York City it is hard to see how they can stay in business.

    Unless they have a line to the credit money flow from the New York Federal Reserve of course – and that madness must come to an end as some point (although, full disclosure, I would have thought it impossible for it to have lasted as anywhere near as long as it has).

    As for demanding a bit of paper for every business transaction.

    The socialist Somerset Fry was useful to me as a child – as every time he praised in his “History of the World” a regime (say the Babylon of Hammarabi – spelling alert) for such as “reform” I know the civilisation he was praising would go into decline by next page.

    I noticed this when I was ten years of age (1975) so I must thank the chap for warning me against statism.

    If one needs a license to engage in normal business (or undertake a trade or profession) and one must give bits of paper for every transaction…..

    Well things do not bode well for the future.

  • Surellin

    Tell me more about this “grey economy”. I am strangely intrigued.

  • nemesis

    The only ones likely to be doing any informing are the people selling 7euro pizzas.
    Apart from that, I suspect the State will seek to eliminate cash transactions as a way to curtail the grey economy. It starts with inducements and penalties before it becomes mandatory. London buses no longer accept cash.

  • Bruce Hoult

    Wow. In New Zealand, I’d suspect that the majority of Dominos pizzas are sold for either $5 or $7 (2.95 EUR or 4.10 EUR). Last time I looked, they seemed to be making money.

  • Mr Ed

    Do the NYPD ask the public for tip-offs on cheap doughnuts?

  • Lee Moore

    1, Sachertort is greatly over-rated, even in Vienna
    2. and if you’re buying it in Venice, something has gone badly wrong…
    3….which explains the otherwise incredible 1 Euro price tag

    the sort of foodstuff you could actually buy in Venice for one Euro would be a thimble of ice cream – without the thimble, obviously

  • Mr Ed

    Lee Moore,

    I have to disagree, gelati in Venice are cheaper than in the UK, and better.

    As for Sachertorte, the Austrians left more than just a cannonball embedded in a church (opposite the Austrian Consulate, someone bureaucratic has a soh).

    The cafe I frequent on my trips is in Dorsoduro, between San Pantalon and the Frari, the Pasticceria Tonolo off Calle San Pantalon/Crosera.

    Expensive Venice is a myth. But On my last trip I did see a Tax Police conference in Campo San Polo, they were on a fag break, looking like opera extras, but plotting no doubt more raids on their own populace. The Italian Tax Police, Guardia di Finanza, is a military force of some 68,000 scarcely smaller than the British Army.

  • Snag

    I wondered what the Guardia di Finanza were. When I was last in a little resort town on the shores of Lago Maggiore I saw at least six cars with that legend, and not one ‘regular’ police car. Priorities.

  • Nicholas (Andy.royd) Gray

    Well, it sure beats chasing real criminals! They’re likely to be armed and dangerous! And since pizza is an Italian invention, it’s probably a nationalist sentiment, after all what’s wrong with more fish? Or reindeer meat? Let’s hope that we don’t all Finnish up like that.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Nicholas! For gosh sakes, ain’t you got NO self-control? I know, I know, yer jest tryin’ to be a bit of a Marimekkor. Well fur your infurmation, we South Canadians hereabouts have real Chicago pan pizza (you have to ignore the peculiar glow)! Much better than that ersatz junk they fob of on you in Napoli. *sniff*

  • Nicholas (Andy.royd) Gray

    I’ve got lots of self-control! I don’t use it, as I am saving it for a special occasion, any really special occasion. You don’t practice self-control ALL the time, do you? Won’t that weaken it too much?

  • thefrollickingmole

    I wonder how revealing this is about the governments knowledge of business in general.
    Selling your “headline” item at cost and then having the ‘extras” (drinks sweets, extra toppings or premium pizzas) as you centres of profit is fairly normal.

    My little fast food shop makes about $8 a meal (each meal costs about $9 to make) on our main item, which people tell us is “too cheap”.
    But my drinks are marked up 300%. My sweets probably cost me close to $1.50 each made up and are sold for $5.Some of the “snack” items have similar markups.

    For big fast food chains the pressure to show you are “cheapest” means actually selling their main items at nearly a loss.

  • Julie near Chicago

    I dunno, Nick. I been trying to get hold of some S-C for years now. I did used to have a little bit stashed a way in an old sock, but that was years ago, and I guess the sock had a hole in it or something because when I went to check my stock, it had all disappeared. I don’t know if the stuff just decomposed on its own, or if the mice or the raccoons got at it. Either one of them could do with a little self-control, you ask me. I wouldn’t mind so much, if they would just clean up after themselves and respect other creatures’ property rights.

  • Nicholas (Andy.royd) Gray

    Yeah, the old socks don’t last long, do they? You should put it in a safe, or under the bed. As for keeping the mice and raccoons away, they’re like little kids. Tell them NOT to go away, and they’ll leave for sure! The old reverse psychology!

  • Julie near Chicago

    I talk to the creeee[ture]s, but they don’t listen to me….

  • Fred the Fourth

    Ah, that probably explains the fairly lavish display at the Doges’palace honoring the Guardia di Finanza operations during the last unpleasantness, and the Miami-Vice-style displays of their current activities in defense of All Italy.
    one suspects going after pizza vendors aroused the ire of locals and tourists, hence the need for the educational materials.

  • Andrew Duffin

    “which costs the country millions of euros in lost tax revenue each year”

    Assuming nobody changes their behaviour if taxed, of course.

    In other words, b****cks.

    Just like Microsoft “we’re losing billions because people manage to use our software for nothing” – no, you dolts, if they couldn’t use it for nothing they wouldn’t use it at all.

  • CaptDMO

    Gosh, I wonder what the prepared “ready-to-consume” food/health/entertainment industry wares would cost WITHOUT organized crime (with, or without a “badge”) dipping into the till?
    Oh Wait…..
    “Tell me more about this “grey economy”. I am strangely intrigued.”
    That’s where “somebody” (elected, or not) deems as much behavior illegal as possible.
    Easily “overlooked” for those who “play ball”, but impossible for “We the people” to live without
    unknowingly committing 3-4 “actionable” offenses/felonies a DAY, just to get by.
    Oddly, “Award winning”, and allegedly “well respected” activists often conflate Political Science? “Social” justice, with so-called economics.

  • CaptDMO

    Above, In My Humble Opinion, of course.

  • Rob Fisher

    I noticed this in Romania recently. The restaurants all have a page in their menus about how you must get a receipt and a number to call to report when this does not happen.