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By Miriam Raftery

January 4, 2015 (Sacramento) – Businesses that falsify records to cheat on the amount of sales tax they owe cost the state of California an estimated $214 million in 2010.  Many of them did so by using sales suppression software known as “zappers” to make sales appear lower, often by not reporting cash transactions.

Sales suppression software was outlawed in California last year and this year, the State Board of Equalization is working to catch cheaters. The agency is sending undercover agents into stores to make purchases, auditing sales over prolonged periods, calculating average monthly sales and other techniques, the Sacramento Bee reports.

You can help by asking for a receipt for all transactions, especially if you pay with cash, the Board of Equalization says. If you suspect a business is illegally suppressing sales, you can save your receipts and call the Board of Equalization’s Tax Evasion Hotline at (888) 334-3300, or submit a complaint at,

Anyone caught selling, installing or using it can case serious jail time and fines—as well as being required to pay back taxes, penalties and interest.

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