Title 44

Chapter 19
Sales and Use Taxes — Enforcement and Collection

R.I. Gen. Laws 44-19-42

 44-19-42.  Suppression of sales — Definitions and applicability.

(a) As used in this section:

(1) "Automated sales suppression device," also known as a "zapper," means a software program, carried on a memory stick or removable compact disc, accessed through an internet link, or accessed through any other means, that falsifies transaction data, transaction reports, or any other electronic records of electronic cash registers and other point-of-sale systems.

(2) "Electronic cash register" means a device that keeps a register, accounting, or supporting documents through the means of an electronic device or computer system designed to record transaction data for the purpose of computing, compiling, or processing retail sales transaction data in any manner.

(3) "Phantom-ware" means a hidden programming option, whether preinstalled or installed at a later time, embedded in the operating system of an electronic cash register or hardwired into the electronic cash register that:

(i) Can be used to create a virtual second till; or

(ii) May eliminate or manipulate transaction records in any manner.

(4) "Remote data manipulation" means and includes, but is not limited to, sending, transmitting, transporting, or receiving through any electronic means any and all transaction data to a remote location, whether or not that location is within Rhode Island or outside the state or the United States, for the purpose of manipulating and/or altering said data in any way, whether or not the actual manipulation is performed manually or through automated means.

(5) "Transaction data" includes: items purchased by a customer; the price for each item; a taxability determination for each item; a segregated tax amount for each of the taxed items; the amount of cash, debit, or credit tendered; the net amount returned to the customer in change; the date and time of the purchase; the name, address, and identification number of the vendor; and the receipt or invoice number of the transaction.

(6) "Transaction reports" means a report documenting, but not limited to the sales, the taxes collected, media totals, and discount voids at an electronic cash register that is printed on cash register tape at the end of a day or shift, or a report documenting every action at an electronic cash register that is stored electronically.

(b) A person shall not knowingly sell, purchase, install, transfer or possess an automated sales suppression device or phantom-ware.

(c) A person shall not knowingly suppress sales by engaging in remote data manipulation, either as the sender or the receiver of the information.

(d) Any person who violates subdivision (b) and/or (c) of this section shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, shall be subject to a fine not exceeding fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) or imprisonment not exceeding five (5) years, or both.

(e) In addition, a person who violates subdivision (b) and/or (c) of this section shall be liable to the state for:

(1) All taxes, interest, and penalties due as the result of the person's use of an automated sales suppression device or phantom-ware and/or remote data manipulation; and

(2) All profits associated with the person's sale of an automated sales suppression device or phantom-ware and/or remote data manipulation.

(f) An automated sales suppression device or phantom-ware and any device containing such device or software shall be deemed contraband and shall be subject to seizure by the tax administrator or by a law enforcement officer when directed to do so by the tax administrator.

(g) Safe harbor.  A person shall not be subject to prosecution under 44-19-42, if by October 1, 2014, the person:

(1) Notifies the division of taxation of the person's possession of an automated sales suppression device;

(2) Provides any information requested by the division of taxation, including transaction records, software specifications, encryption keys, passwords, and other data; and

(3) Corrects any underreported sales tax records and fully pays the division of taxation any amounts previously owed.

(h) This section shall not be construed to limit the person's civil or criminal liability under any other provision of law.

History of Section.
P.L. 2014, ch. 145, art. 12, 8; P.L. 2017, ch. 302, art. 8, 11.