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Gas station criminal risks diversify as multi-agency efforts continue to address fuel pump cheating and tax evasion

Nov. 30, 2023, 12:14 p.m.
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Since 2022, various localities have successively cracked down on cheating in tankers, and some areas have achieved results. Recently, the Zhejiang Provincial Market Supervision Administration summarized the inspection results since the launch of the special management action on metering accuracy of fuel tankers in March this year, and released ten typical cases of this special management. Among them, Zhuji, Shaoxing investigated and dealt with a cheating tanker selling oil. In August, 2022, the parties bought an illegally modified tanker that could control the actual oil output through cheating instruments. By the time of seizure, the parties had used the above tanker to sell more than 15 tons of diesel oil, involving more than 100,000 yuan. Due to the large amount involved, Zhuji City Bureau transferred the case to the public security organ for handling according to law on suspicion of fraud. It can be seen that cheating on tankers involves not only tax evasion, but also other crimes.

This paper will combine the common means of tanker cheating, analyze the current regulatory situation in the retail field of refined oil products under the premise of fully understanding the influence of this behavior, and prompt taxpayers about the criminal risk of tanker cheating.

I. Cheating on the tanker by tax evasion means at the gas station.

Tanker is a metering device for gas stations to sell refined oil. In order to strengthen the tax management of gas stations, plug tax loopholes, crack down on illegal activities in the field of refined oil circulation, safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of consumers, and at the same time cooperate with the state to implement the reform of road and vehicle charges, and do a good job in cleaning up and rectifying the refined oil market, State Taxation Administration of The People's Republic of China and the State Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision issued the Notice on Relevant Issues Concerning the Installation of Tax Control Devices for Tankers and the Production and Use of Tax Control Tankers, requiring the installation of tax control devices for existing gas stations in China, and organizing the production and use of tax control tankers. However, the use of tax control devices did not stifle the signs of tax evasion in gas stations, but gradually derived various tax evasion means for tax control equipment, that is, tanker cheating.

(I) Do not use tankers-sell oil off-site.

Gas stations buy refined oil from upstream suppliers, and sell it directly to small gas stations, factories, fleets or agricultural users through tankers, or sell it to individual drivers such as motorcycles and taxis through scales or oil drums, and then withdraw funds through cash collection and private household collection. Because the purchase and sale have not passed the tax-controlled tanker, it is called "off-board oil sales". Under this mode of operation, the cost of purchasing oil products and the income from selling oil products at gas stations do not flow out or in through the enterprise account, nor do they invoice in the name of the enterprise, nor do they declare tax payment to the competent tax authorities. The business is completely out of the account, which is a typical tax evasion behavior of hiding income.

In practice, it is difficult for tax authorities to find out the situation of off-site oil sales by gas stations and other main bodies through on-the-spot inspection. However, with the tax supervision strengthening the real-time monitoring of the data of gas stations, the tax violations of gas stations are becoming more and more obvious. For example, from 2019 to 2021, the retail of refined oil products by D gas station through tankers was not accounted for or declared, and the total tax payment was 2.24 million yuan. The First Inspection Bureau of Z City qualitatively evaded taxes on D gas station and fined 1.12 million yuan.

(II) Transformation and disassembly of tankers-tanker cheating

At present, in practice, there are many forms of cheating in tankers, some of which are rude, and the use of tax control devices is stopped directly. Others are relatively hidden, which is manifested in the tampering of refueling data by technical means. These behaviors will make the sales data collected from the tax control equipment of the tanker inconsistent with the actual sales situation, which will lead to the objective result that all or part of the income of the gas station operators is out of tax supervision, and often point to the obvious intention of tax evasion. Specifically, the common forms of tanker cheating are as follows:

First, prevent the system from uploading refueling data.

One mode is to destroy the use conditions of the tax control device by unplugging the power line of the tax control system and the data line connected to the main board of the tanker, and the other mode is to dismantle or transform the tax control device to eliminate data recording from the source. For example, during the operation period from October 2021 to May 2022, M gas station used the compulsory verification measuring instruments (tax-controlled fuel tankers) that were changed and disassembled without authorization, that is, the tax-controlled devices were changed without authorization to sell refined oil to conceal the sales revenue, resulting in less reporting of sales revenue excluding tax of 3.07 million yuan, which constituted tax evasion and was fined 950,000 yuan.

Second, use technical means to intercept and tamper with refueling data.

1. Setting parameters in the background to filter and intercept refueling data.

For example, G gas station concealed sales revenue by cash collection, private WeChat, Alipay account collection, and using the third-party management system to set parameters from the background to screen and intercept the refueling data uploaded by the tanker to the intelligent tax control system, resulting in less reporting of value-added tax, urban maintenance and construction tax, education surcharge and local education surcharge from January 2020 to March 2023, and less reporting of corporate income tax from 2020 to 2021, which constituted tax evasion and was fined 1.6 million yuan.

For another example, there are two sets of "SK Petrol Station Management System" in J Petrol Station, and the procedures are the same. One set of programs has the function of modifying the data in the transmission and storage of the tanker system by setting "preferential information parameters", modifying the transmission mode and other technical means, which can make the "SK Petrol Station Management System" program incompletely enter the refueling records according to the data identification when entering the refueling records in the database. J gas station handled relevant accounts and declared taxes according to the incomplete refueling records, resulting in underpayment of taxes from February to December 2022 totaling 1.18 million yuan.

2. Tampering with the tanker motherboard chip and installing cheating software.

For example, W gas station concealed sales revenue by tampering with the main board chip of the tanker and installing cheating software, made false declarations and underpaid 2,477,200 yuan in taxes and fees such as value-added tax. The tax inspection department shall recover the underpaid tax, add the late payment fee and plan to impose a fine on the gas station according to law, totaling 5,263,600 yuan.

II. The influence of tanker cheating and the regulatory situation

(I) The impact of tanker cheating

On the one hand, cheating on tankers may lead to the loss of state taxes. As mentioned above, no matter how the gas station manipulates the tax control equipment, its declared data will deviate from the actual purchase and sale data in essence, and it is usually manifested as less declared sales income, which leads to its unpaid or underpaid tax, resulting in the loss of national tax.

On the other hand, cheating on tankers may damage the interests of consumers. In the case of off-board oil sales, it is difficult for the end consumer to determine the source and quality of the oil. If the oil is of inferior quality, it will not only cause damage to the vehicle parts, but also have potential safety hazards. Moreover, it is difficult to guarantee the accurate measurement of oil sold off-board, and it is not uncommon to "lack two pounds", and some "black gas stations" may even "steal oil".

Therefore, cheating on tankers is not only a key area investigated by tax authorities, but also a concern of market supervision departments.

(II) the regulatory situation of tanker cheating

First, strictly crack down on cheating in tankers.

Since 2022, Sichuan, Guangdong, Hubei, Chongqing and other places have cracked down on cheating in tankers. On March 16th, 2023, Netan Detachment of Public Security Bureau of Huanggang City, Hubei Province, combined with local quality inspection, market supervision, management and measurement departments to conduct a unified inventory of gas stations, and found that several gas stations in Huangzhou, Xishui and Macheng in Huanggang purchased cheating chips for refueling and tax evasion, and seized seven gas stations with serious criminal problems on the spot. After this action, the city has criminally detained 7 people and shut down 7 problematic gas stations.

By August, 2023, Chongqing had achieved initial results in cracking down on cheating in tankers. Since June 2022, Chongqing Municipal Bureau, together with public security, commerce, taxation and other departments, has carried out joint supervision and law enforcement, and investigated 31 cases of metering cheating at gas stations in 16 districts and counties, involving 31 gas stations, involving a total amount of 1.24 billion yuan. At present, 21 cases have been closed, 47 tankers have been confiscated, 158 main boards of metering control of tankers have been confiscated, and 10.7768 million yuan of fines have been put into storage.

Recently, the market supervision department of Zhejiang Province carried out full coverage inspection on 3,982 gas stations in the province, investigated and dealt with 257 cases of various types, and investigated and dealt with cheating on the main boards of refueling machines in several gas stations during the special campaign to control the metering accuracy of fuel tankers for more than half a year.

Second, pilot and popularize the intelligent tax control system in many places.

At present, the shortcomings of the backward technology of the traditional tax control device system have been exposed, and various places have begun to pilot and popularize intelligent tax control systems. Through the application of Internet, Internet of Things, big data, blockchain and other technical means, the intelligent tax control system focuses on the comprehensive monitoring, real-time collection, transmission and automatic analysis of refueling data, tax control equipment and trading behavior, which makes tax supervision particularly sensitive to abnormal situations such as mismatched purchase and sales, artificial power failure, disassembly and modification of equipment, and easily leads to platform early warning.

Since March 31st, 2021, the People's Government of Guangdong Province required that all gas stations in the province should be equipped with tax control systems, and since the retail of refined oil products was controlled by "selling" and "entering", ten municipal people's governments of Shenzhen, Maoming and Chaozhou in Guangdong Province have issued the Notice on Comprehensively Promoting the Use of Intelligent Tax Control System for Gas Stations, requiring that all gas stations with fuel dispensers in the whole city should be equipped with intelligent tax control systems for gas stations.

Since January 1, 2022, Xiangyang City, Hubei Province has also fully launched the cloud platform for comprehensive supervision of refined oil products. 570 tankers in 181 social gas stations in the city, as well as data acquisition equipment and video monitoring systems of all PetroChina and Sinopec gas stations have been installed to ensure that relevant data can be transmitted to the cloud platform for comprehensive supervision of refined oil products in real time.

Third, multi-departments cooperate to carry out comprehensive treatment of tanker cheating.

In September, 2023, the State Administration of Markets, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Commerce and the State Administration of Taxation jointly issued the Implementation Plan for the Comprehensive Control Action of Refueling Machine Cheating, demanding that cheating in refueling machines be resolutely curbed and the legitimate rights and interests of consumers be safeguarded. In administrative law enforcement, the role of departmental coordination is becoming more and more significant. According to the provisions of Article 11 of the Measures for the Administration of the Sources of Tax Inspection Cases (Trial), the clues of tax violations provided by external units such as public security, procuratorial, auditing, discipline inspection and supervision, and the internal audit and discipline inspection and supervision departments of the tax bureau, as well as the tax-related information shared by government departments and social organizations, are themselves important sources of tax inspection case information. All departments carry out the investigation and punishment of cheating on tankers within their statutory duties, and if it is found that the enterprises involved in the case have tax-related violations and pushed relevant clues to the tax authorities, it will significantly enhance their tax-related risks.

III. Multiple criminal risks of tanker cheating

In fact, the influence of cheating on tankers is very extensive, which has an impact on national tax interests, consumers' property interests and the security of computer information systems. The criminal responsibilities that may be investigated after conviction are as follows:

(I) Cheating on tankers constitutes a crime of tax evasion.

As mentioned above, cheating on tankers is a typical tax evasion behavior. Gas stations that fail to pay or underpay taxes through such behaviors are deemed as tax evasion. According to Article 63 of the Law on Tax Collection and Management, in addition to failing to pay taxes and charging late fees, they may also be fined for not paying or underpaying taxes by more than 50% but less than 5 times. If a taxpayer is unable to pay taxes, late fees or fines, and has received criminal punishment for evading tax payment within five years, or has been given administrative punishment for more than two times by the tax authorities, the administrative responsibility may be transformed into criminal responsibility for tax evasion. According to the provisions of Article 201 of the Criminal Law, taxpayers who make false tax returns or fail to declare by deception or concealment, and evade paying a large amount of tax and account for more than 10% of the taxable amount, can be sentenced to a maximum of seven years' imprisonment and fined. From the perspective of actors, taxpayers include both units and natural persons. Even taxpayers engaged in production and business operations and taxpayers engaged in business operations temporarily who have not gone through tax registration in accordance with regulations are also the subject of this crime. If a unit commits this crime, it shall be fined, and the directly responsible person in charge and other directly responsible personnel shall be punished in accordance with the above provisions. Objectively speaking, what constitutes this crime should first be an act that violates the administrative legal norms. The so-called "deception and concealment means" means that the actor has four kinds of tax evasion acts stipulated in the Law on the Administration of Tax Collection, resulting in the consequences of evading the payment of taxes of more than 100,000 yuan and accounting for more than 10% of the taxable amount, thus reaching the conviction standard of this crime. The use of cheating tankers in gas stations essentially hides the real purchase and sale data and understates the sales revenue, which is a typical tax evasion behavior. If the amount of tax evaded by a gas station in this way reaches the conviction standard and does not meet the administrative preconditions, it will be investigated for criminal responsibility for tax evasion.

(II) Cheating in the tanker constitutes fraud.

Case: Defendants Wu Mou and Pan were both employees of a petrochemical trading company, and both knew the defendant Lu. Since July 2018, the three defendants have conspired, with Lumou being mainly responsible for technical support, and Wu Mou being mainly responsible for contacting the staff of more than ten different gas stations. By replacing the fuel dispenser chip of the gas station, decoding and tampering with the metering data, the actual fuel consumption of the fictitious refueling customer was deducted, and then realized after the sale to obtain illegal benefits, involving a total amount of RMB 3,713,800.

The court held that the three defendants, together with others, tampered with the metering data after replacing the tanker chips of several gas stations, and displayed the refined oil products that the refueling customers had paid to the gas stations in the display end of the tanker and the background oil control system according to the amount corresponding to the payment, thus concealing the actual reduced oil output. Because the customers were deceived by the tanker display, they didn't know that the oil they had added had not reached the amount they should have paid. According to the background oil control system, the gas station also lost the property ownership of concealing the amount of oil, that is, Lu Mou and others defrauded the customer's property by falsely increasing the weight of oil. The object of the crime in this case was the amount of oil filled by the customer, and there was a direct causal relationship between the profit of Lu Mou and others and the loss of the customer. The behavior of Lu Mou and others met the constitutive requirements of the crime of fraud, and the three defendants constituted the crime of fraud, and they were sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment ranging from eleven years and six months to twelve years and two months respectively, and fined.

(III) Cheating in the tanker constitutes a crime of destroying the computer information system.

Case: Since 2015, in order to gain illegal benefits, the defendant Xu has modified the functions of some gas stations in Dehong, Yunnan Province by writing illegal programs into the motherboard chip of the tanker, so as to achieve the purpose of less refueling and less taxation. After illegal modification, he taught the operation methods of illegal programs to gas station personnel, making an illegal profit of 7,000 yuan.

The court held that the defendant Xu violated state regulations, modified the functions of the computer information system, and made a profit of 7,000 yuan. The consequences were serious, and his behavior had violated the criminal law. He was sentenced to one year and three months in prison for destroying the computer information system.

IV. Summary: gas stations have a long way to go to tax compliance.

With the maturity of tax big data, the intelligent supervision of the refined oil industry has been continuously strengthened. As a key area investigated by the tax authorities, gas stations should strengthen tax compliance. It is necessary to pay close attention to the use of tax-controlled tankers, promptly investigate the tankers with abnormal operation, and immediately repair technical problems to ensure their normal operation; It is also necessary to standardize business practices and avoid abnormal data submitted by tax control equipment due to human factors; It is also necessary to eliminate the fluky psychology and put an end to hiding income and tax evasion through off-board oil sales and extracorporeal circulation.

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Copyright@2019 Aequity.ALL rights reserved京CP备17073992号-1