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16. 1. 2008
This would apply to the employees, the employers, and inevitably the government as well. We think it is unfortunate that this proposition looks like a result of the political circumstances, and we assume that such issue should be discussed widely including the consideration of all its potential impacts.
A possible abolition of tax-exemption benefits would most likely affect not only the food vouchers but the entire company food services as well. The company food services and the food vouchers are thereby one of the few really effective tools of the government subsidies. They support work productivity and healthier lifestyle of people. They also contribute significantly to development and stabilization of the food services segment. This all positively projects into the economy. Possible adoption of such statute amendment would affect almost four million employees in the Czech Republic who currently take advantage of the company food services or food vouchers.
With regard to the impact of the company food service subsidies on the government budget, according to the Study of the Property Evaluation Institute of University of Economics in Prague, which was conducted early last year, the possible abolition of the tax-exemption benefits for company food services would cause the involved organizations to pay only 1.1 billion CZK more in taxes. However, the government would loose about 1.0 billion CZK from its GDP due to the decreased revenues of restaurants, retail establishments and food-voucher companies. The annual net loss for the governmental budget would be almost 810 million CZK according to the study; and furthermore, the unemployment rate would gradually go up by one fifth, the same as the revenues of the seventeen thousand restaurants participating in the acceptance of the food vouchers.
The food vouchers and the entire company food services are by no means the Czech Republic specificity, they do function successfully in most of the European states, even in the countries outside the Europe. The experiences from the countries close to the Czech Republic (Slovak Republic, Romania) show, that in the case of transition to the system of "flat taxes", the subsidies of food services still remain the component of the expenditures being tax-exempted for the employers. Even in Hungary, the country which taxes the company profits quite sympathetically (currently 16 + 4%), the expenditures on food services are still subject to tax exemptions.