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North Carolina Zaps Use of Tax Zappers


 If you get caught using a tax zapper in North Carolina, you could pay$10,000, plus back taxes, penalties, and fines.

Come December 1, 2013, it will be a criminal offense in North Carolina to sell, purchase, install, possess, transfer, use or access an automated sales suppression device.

Under the new law, “no person shall knowingly sell, purchase, install, transfer, possess, use, or access any automated sales suppression device, zapper, or phantom-ware.”

Any person convicted of cavorting with an automated sales suppression device is guilty of a Class H felony. That brings a fine of up to $10,000, plus “all taxes, fees, penalties, and interest due the State as the result of the use of an automated sales suppression device, zapper, or phantom-ware.”

This new law makes a person wonder: “What is a sales suppression device? Why would a person want one?”

Tax zappers

Automated sales suppression devices include:

Tax zappers: software programs that falsify “the electronic records of electronic cash registers and other point-of-sale systems, including transaction data and transaction reports.”

Phantom-ware: “a hidden programming option embedded in the operating system of an electronic cash register or hardwired into the electronic cash register that can be used to create a second set of records or may eliminate or manipulate transaction records.”

Tax zappers and their kin are used to deceive. Records of actual sales can be made to disappear. If there are no sales, no one can ask for the sales tax that was collected on those sales. Take that, Mr. Auditor (we imagine the nefarious user of a tax zapper saying).

North Carolina is not the only state in the union to criminalize tax zappers. In zapping tax zappers, the Tar Heel State joins Tennessee, Maine, West Virginia, and several other states.

How do you comply with ever-changing sales tax laws?

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photo credit: Angie C via photopin cc


Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.