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This is the second article in a series about Groupon coupons for restaurants.  The first article covered accounting for Groupon transactions.  This piece covers how to set up your Point of Sale (POS) system to record POS systemredemptions of coupons.  Failing to do so properly could result in the restaurant being on the hook for a lot of sales tax, penalties and interest!

In the first article, we learned that HST applies to the “promotional value” of the Groupon coupon.  In our example, the coupon was worth $100 of meals, and the customer purchased it for $50, which was paid directly to Groupon.  The promotional value of the coupon is the $50, even though the restaurant does not receive this amount from Groupon.  So, when the customer orders $100 worth of meals and drinks at a restaurant, she will have to pay tax on $50, but she will receive a credit for $100 (face value of the coupon).

Restaurants that use Groupon (or other similar programs) may need to update their POS systems to properly account for these transactions.  Many POS systems can be easily modified by the user to make these changes, but some require programming by the developer (which can take time).  Here are the changes you will need.

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While I’m not a fan of Groupon coupons, at least for restaurants, I felt compelled to write a few articles about it.  Today’s piece covers accounting for Groupon coupons, because I’ve seen some really weird accounting recommendations and far-from-best-practices.  As far as I know, none of the more unusual accounting has been suggested by real accountants!

Future articles will cover how to generate the proper entries in QuickBooks, how to set up your Point of Sale (POS) system to properly account for redemptions of Groupon certificates, and why you may be in for a huge shock when the tax man comes a knocking.

For what it’s worth, if you really, really think you need to use Groupon (or Living Social) coupons at your restaurant, at least get the accounting right.  There are four types of entries that need to be made in your accounting system, which are:

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It is almost impossible to compare a restaurant’s operations with industry averages.  Organizations like the CRFA aggregate the smallest mom-and-pop with the largest chains to get their averages.  Not many restaurants are “average”, anyway.  Just about all industry statistics are based on surveys, not actual operating results.  Even though such surveys are anonymous, who wants to put down that their cost of sales is 40% or more?  So, the results are often skewed.

There is another way of compiling restaurant operating results.

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The first three posts in this series covered fraud and theft of products entering the establishment, food theft, and alcohol theft.  Now, we’re going to look at outright theft of sales receipts.  While it’s unlikely that your servers are grabbing handfuls of dollars on their way out the door, today’s post looks at several more sophisticated methods of achieving the same result.

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“What I like to drink most is wine that belongs to others.”
Diogenes.

Today’s post looks at alcohol related thefts once the alcohol has made its way to the coolers and shelves in the bar.  These types of alcohol theft are broad categories.  Within each there are many scams, too many to list.  As I have discussed many times on this blog and my tax blog, alcohol theft has dire tax consequences for a restaurant.  In Canada, the total cost of the theft can easily be twice the cost of the stolen alcohol.  That’s why it is so important to minimize theft in your operation.

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