UNDERSTANDING INVOICES OR “FAPIAO’S” (发票) IN CHINA (FOR MEALS/ENTERTAINMENT SERVICES)

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3 Good Reasons to Take a “Fapiao”

1. You can win free money

2. You can deduct business expenses

3. You keep businesses honest

China has set up a special type of invoice for restaurants to issue to a customer that purchases commodities from their store. This acts as a way to crack down on businesses “cooking” their accounting books or deter tax evasion. Anyone who purchases a meal is encouraged by the government to request such “fapiao’s” when paying. However, some restaurants have retaliated by encouraging (or “bribing”) their customers to take a discount from their bill instead of asking for the fapiao.

Whether you decide to have a discounted meal or take the fapiao is entirely up to you. However, every restaurant is legally bound to provide you with a fapiao. If they refuse, give you a fake one, or give you one from a different company, you can contact your city’s consumer council. If you don’t know your consumer council, you can locate it at the national website given here: http://www.gd315.gov.cn/. At some restaurants owned by “minority” Chinese, such as natives of Xinjiang, I have been told “those rules” don’t apply to us. If such rule exists, I have not found it in any legal text. However, since I like their food, I will let them off the hook.

For Shenzhen residents, the consumer council is located at http://www.sz315.org/. All consumer complaints require you to fill out a form like this one: http://www.sz315.org/downFile.aspx?id=1.

What does a restaurant fapiao look like?

Depicted below is a sample of what a real fapiao looks like with a translated version given below it.

Chinese Version:

Rough English Translation:

Fapiao’s are often printed by designated print houses. The fapiao shown here was printed by Dongpeng Printing House located in the Che Peng Yiu Sha Factory on 7 Shang Mei Lin Kai Feng Rd. in Futian, which serves the Local Taxation Bureau of Shenzhen. If you are interested in how fapiao’s are printed, there is a company video located here: http://www.szzfcg.cn/portal/innoPrsView.do?method=view&id=12135876

When you receive a “Fapiao”, you can verify whether it is real by holding it into the light to reveal the watermark “GDLT” (for Guangdong Fapiao’s). Then, you can go to your city’s database for fapiao’s located on the local taxation department website and look up the invoice number. For Shenzhen residents, you may visit this link: http://dzswj.szds.gov.cn/dzswj/fpzwxx.do?method=toZwxx

(Alternatively, you may visit http://www.szds.gov.cn and click the first link for fapiao’s under “综合查询”of the menu bar).

On the website, you will see the following screen or a similar screen displayed:

In the first box, enter the invoice series number. The series number indicates the amount of the fapiao. All fapiao’s of that amount in that year will have the same series number. In the second box, enter your special invoice number. In addition, you will need to enter the verification box number (“tWV9” in this example) in the box adjacent to where it appears. This is to prevent unwanted bots overloading the system with spam queries. Then click “Submit” (the blue-shaded button located on the left).

The search results will show you which company issued this particular fapiao, how many times someone has searched the system looking for it, the date that the company submitted the invoice, and the date that an individual claimed that invoice.

Do not detach any part of the fapiao if you are wishing to claim a prize or claim tax deductions. This will automatically make the fapiao invalid in the government’s eyes. If you just want to play the game, only scratch off the box located in the “prize claim stub” section. The directions for the game are listed below the “scratch-off box”:

1. 刮开奖区覆盖层后显示中奖金额或“谢谢您”。在兑奖前不得将发票联和联断开,否则不子兑奖。

2. 取得的发票必须加盖发票专用章,且发票专用章上的单位名称必须与消费场所单位名称一致,否则不子兑奖。

1. Scratch off the box to reveal either the amount won or "Thank you". Before claiming prize, do not detach the invoice stub from the main invoice, otherwise, no prize may be claimed.

2. All obtained invoices must be stamped with an official invoice chop and the name of the business on that chop must be consistent with the place of consumption,

otherwise, no prize may be claimed.

Thus, when you scratch off the box, you will either see a prize amount or the words “谢谢您”. If the box just says “谢谢您”, it means that you did not win a prize, but thanks for trying.

If you win an amount, you can immediately get that amount added to your Sim card by simply sending a text message to the number indicated on the back of the fapiao. Alternatively, you can download a special app called “发票通” to your smart phone, which easily allows you to request your winnings.

In addition, using the fapiao, you may look up information about a company through the number provided in the corporate chop. Visit your local market supervision administration. For Shenzhen residents, you may visit here: http://app01.szaic.gov.cn/aiceqmis.webui/GeneralSearch.aspx

This will provide you a database to search for the company to see whether it is registered and in good standing. Simply type the number in the chop or the company’s name in the box. If you do not feel like writing the whole name, you can just write the first few characters and unclick “全称”. In this example, I used McDonald’s.

If you are claiming a fapiao for tax purposes, you should sign your name at the bottom of it and write the date that it was given to you.

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