Posted by Chelsea Macchione.
Earlier this year in Beverly Massachusetts, Nick’s Roast Beef, a family owned sandwich shop, was found guilty to tax evasion during the years of operation, 2009 to 2013. The sandwich shop, at this time, was an all-cash business and would understate their income by splitting up excess cash between the two owners, Nichols Kaudanis and Nicholas Markos. By understating their income, Nicks Roast Beef got away with paying taxes on not even half of their actual income during those 5 years. The company found a way to manipulate their receipts so that it reflected only the cash that had been reported on and not any of the other cash that was earned and distributed to the partners. Between the years of 2009 to 2013 the investigating auditors claim the company got away with not paying around $1,000,000 dollars in taxes.
Tax evasion can happen within any type of business. If there is a way to manipulate income, there is a company out there is doing it to try to get away with paying fewer taxes for one reason or another. In this example, it was very easy for the business to get away with type of fraud because at the time they were strictly cash based. Cash is hard to audit and keep track of within a business, like the sandwich shop, because the only form of evidence there is are receipts from cash register transactions or customers. It is not difficult in a situation like this to either not record cash collected or generate fake receipts to report. Nicks Roast Beef took full advantage of this type of fraud and then suffered the consequences of jail time served by all of the owners and parties involved within the sandwich shop.
In my opinion, this type of fraud is probably existent within many different types of businesses due to similar circumstances in this case. Cash plays a huge factor with understating income because, like stated before, its very hard to keep track of it. Any type of business that can get away with cash transactions for goods or services that are usually paid for on account, can easily get away with not reporting it with no questions asked. Nicks Roast Beef was also a family operated business, which is sometimes what fuels fraud to occur within a business, having trust in everyone involved to not report the illegal activity. In circumstances like this, I believe it will always be a challenge as an auditor to know if the business is stating their cash income correctly. More evidence and questioning should be exercised in cases where family owned businesses are in charge of reporting their income and more of a consistent monitoring of the business finances should be put into place.
Chelsea is a MS accounting student at the Feliciano School of Business, Montclair State University.