Interview with Medi Benbugera, CEO of Edenred Bulgaria.
2022 is set to be a turning point for the food voucher market, as the State Budget envisages an increase in the quota for food vouchers to BGN 1 billion and BGN 200 non-taxable funds for vouchers per employee per month. This is happening after years of chronic quota shortages.
Increasing the quota and the non-taxable value of food vouchers will allow more and more employers to provide this highly valued social benefit to their employees. This will increase their purchasing power in the face of rising inflation and food prices and will help their family budgets. In addition, it is envisaged that from April 1, food vouchers can be used to cover household bills for electricity and water.
Food vouchers are an additional social benefit provided by employers to their employees to support purchasing power and increase their motivation. They are exempt from taxes and social security contributions of up to BGN 200 per month per worker. Food vouchers can be used for food, groceries, soft drinks, and from April 1, 2022 - also to pay utility bills and cultural activities. Employers can order vouchers with tax relief up to BGN 200 with a retroactive date from the beginning of the year. More than 10,000 retail outlets across the country accept food vouchers, including restaurants, fast food restaurants, shops, and supermarkets.
There are two types of food vouchers that can be distributed to employees. The food vouchers under Ordinance №7 are regulated by of the Ministry of Finance. These vouchers can be used by any employer who meets the legal requirements. Through them, the employer can provide its employees with a supplement to the monthly salary. When it amounts to BGN 200 per month / this is to come into force in April /, the employer and the employee are completely exempt from taxes and insurance on the vouchers.
The free food vouchers under Ordinance № 11 are designed in accordance with the requirements for providing free food or supplements to it for employees working in enterprises with a specific nature and organization of work. They do not have a ceiling for the non-taxable amount, but they can be provided only in enterprises with a specific nature and organization of work, such as night work, 12-hour working day, certain temperature conditions, exposure to harmful agents and others.
In order for the company to distribute food vouchers to its employees and to use tax reliefs, it is necessary to have an employment contract between the company and the employees, as well as food vouchers to be received by all employees who currently work under an employment contract with the company. In addition, the employer must not have public obligations for taxes and social security contributions to the treasury.
The introduction of food vouchers in the company brings several benefits for both the employer and the employees. The provision of food vouchers to the salary serves as a motivation for employees and increases their purchasing power. This can significantly improve the efficiency of work in the company. In addition, they can be used as a means of enhancing the corporate image and trust of employees.
Several studies have proven the effect of food vouchers is to lighten income and consumption. On the one hand, employers who have so far given part of their employees' salaries in an envelope can take advantage of this tool to shed light on workers' incomes. Traders who accept food vouchers, which currently number is more than 10,000 sites across the country, are compulsorily VAT registered, thus increasing tax collection. Vouchers support the local economy because they can only be used in the country, and because they are limited in validity, they do not turn into savings, but are spent almost immediately.