Cash register

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cash register (probably around 1900, USA), with hand crank on the right, roll holder for paper receipt issue on the left, on a wooden cash drawer.
Sound of a 1912 NCR cash register (Model 642)
Cash register (2011)
QUORiON Concerto of a pizzeria with an inscribed membrane keyboard

A cash register (in Austria cash register ) is a data acquisition device that specializes in the sale of goods or services and is used to settle cash payments ( cash deposits and cash withdrawals ) and to create receipts ( receipts ).


There are various technical implementations - a distinction is to be made between “open” systems (consisting of standard hardware, a standard operating system and cash register software) and “closed” (or “proprietary”) systems (in which hardware and software have a Form unity). More powerful, integrated cash registers are often called POS system (or "POS system" english point of sale ; point of sale ) markets. In many cases there is an integration into a merchandise management system .


The cash register was on 4 November 1879 by the local owner James Ritty in Dayton , Ohio , USA , applied for a patent to the theft by his staff to reduce. The essence of the invention was the cash drawer, which only opened at the specified time with the ringing sound that has become typical of the cash register. Even today, every till opening is registered digitally.

Ritty received the patent for it on January 30, 1883 together with John Birch . His newly formed cash register manufacturing company was bought in 1884 by John H. Patterson , who renamed it the National Cash Register Company (now the NCR Corporation ). NCR quickly became the market leader in the USA and soon began selling the successful cash register worldwide.


Open systems

Cash register with peripherals in a supermarket in Ukraine .

An open system (often also called "PC cash register") consists of cash register hardware and cash register software. The POS hardware is usually PC-compatible, but is specially designed for use at the POS. Other components of the POS hardware are z. B. Receipt printer for printing receipts, barcode scanners, cash drawers, programmable cash register keypads, customer displays, EFT payment terminals, etc. Windows or Linux are predominantly used as the operating system. The cash register software is an application that was developed as standard or individual software.

The advantages are the independence of hardware and software as well as the availability of powerful hardware and tools such as SQL databases. Disadvantages are the susceptibility to errors due to the complexity of the hardware and software, security gaps in the standard operating systems and the short product cycles of the technologies derived from the consumer sector.

Closed systems

These systems use hardware specially developed for the device. The other hardware equipment today largely corresponds to that mentioned under the open systems. The operating systems are either developed by the manufacturer itself or commercially available or open source solutions are used. Specially adapted Linux variants are used more and more frequently. The POS software is specially tailored to the hardware in question and cannot be easily used on other hardware. However, different manufacturers use the same software in several of their models.

The main advantages are the high level of failure and data security. One disadvantage is that hardware and software have to be obtained from one provider.


Touchscreens are becoming more and more popular for operating the cash registers , as they are more flexible than keyboards with permanent labels. In the hospitality sector in particular, the proportion of portable POS terminals that communicate wirelessly with stationary cash registers and peripheral devices such as printers is growing. The term radio ordering has established itself here. While the waiter takes the order with a portable till terminal, the preparation starts immediately in the kitchen. The technological development of tablets and smartphones in particular support this trend.

Cloud based

The advent of cloud computing has created a new way for cash registers to access software directly over the Internet . The platform independence of cloud-based cash registers enables a wide range of hardware to be connected, such as tablets and smartphones. With a built-in camera, these devices can also be used as barcode scanners and, via NFC or external card readers, as POS terminals . Some companies have developed their software specifically for cloud-based use.

Industry sectors

Depending on the industry in which the cash register is used, the requirements and, accordingly, the functions differ considerably. A rough division into gastronomy and retail solutions can be made.


In the hospitality industry, cash registers are not only used to record sales, but are also ordering and information systems. With these systems, booking is usually made on a table. To control workflows in the kitchen and service, different types of receipts can be printed or displayed on different printers (e.g. counter and kitchen printer) or on kitchen monitors. For the settlement of the open tables, functions such as merging or splitting invoices are available. More complex systems also offer functions such as voucher management, customer management, statistics, cashless payment, connection to mobile order terminals, etc.


Depending on the type of retail, very different functions are required. So z. B. Textile retail systems can manage sizes and colors of items sold, while bakery chain systems need to record orders and returns. The systems are also used to record the habits and preferences of individual customers. Most of the cash registers used in commerce are connected to an inventory management system and financial accounting . Sales are mostly recorded using barcodes .

Mobile service provider

Professions that create and print out invoices while on the move need a long battery life. Service providers such as doctors , hairdressers , taxi drivers or market vendors often use all-in-one solutions for mobile use that combine software and hardware.

Typical operating procedures

Generally valid descriptions are not possible due to the wide variety and equipment of cash registers. They result from the respective operating instructions for the cash register. However, the following processes are typical:

In the registration process, the cashier records the target position of the checkout process. Depending on the technical situation, the individual prices of the "cashier objects" to be registered (e.g. goods, services, entrance fee, etc.) are registered, or an identification feature of the cashier object. In current cash register systems in retail and catering, article numbers are usually recorded manually, fixed keys are pressed on the cash register keyboard or touch screen, or a barcode (e.g. EAN code ) is scanned to record the cashier item.

After completing the registration process, i. d. Usually by pressing the subtotal key, the cash register has determined the target position for the checkout process, which is to be paid, and displays it. The cashier records the amount paid in the cash register, whereby the target position of the delivered cashier objects and the actual position of the payment in the cash register are balanced.

All cash registers show the amount of change in the event of overpayment. The change payment method does not necessarily correspond to the payment method used. So z. B. with vouchers in the event of an overpayment regularly returned in cash, provided that such a process is not excluded by the issuer of the voucher or the acceptance point.

Legal framework in Germany and Austria

In Germany, the GoB are the general framework i. V. m. to §§ 145 ff AO and § 238 HGB . The individual recording obligation also applies to the income-surplus calculator due to § 22 UStG . As a result, there is an individual recording requirement for every cash proceeds. If this is handled differently in practice, this will not change the GoB. Today the GoBD regulate the legal framework for the cash register as a so-called pre-system. If there are deviations between the Z-Receipt and the contents of the till, the content of the Z-Receipt is decisive for tax purposes.

In Austria, on January 1, 2016, cash registers were required by law for businesses with a total turnover of € 15,000 or more per year, provided that at least € 7,500 of this is in cash. Due to practicality and legal uncertainty, several complaints against it were announced in October 2015. The technical details for security devices in the cash registers are regulated in the Cash Register Security Ordinance.


Data security

Cash register data is partially manipulated to enable tax evasion . The increasing regulatory pressure to record individual data and provide for testing, manipulations are more complicated - to be strengthened Zapper used. The immutability of data is required by law ( Section 146 (4) AO ), but in the case of digital data this can only be guaranteed by suitable technical procedures such as fiscal storage or INSIKA in conjunction with a - currently non-existent - legal framework. The problem also arises with other, undocumented interventions in the programming of the cash register, scales or with taxis by so-called second taximeters. The GoBD , valid from January 1st, 2015, does not solve the problem, as only abstract approaches are described there, which are only of an organizational nature and - unlike technical solutions - no audit-proof, i.e. unalterable, cash register according to Sec. 146 (4) AO. On December 31, 2016, the transitional regulation from the BMF letter of November 26, 2010 - IV A 4 - S 0316/08 / 10004-07 - ended, so that from January 1, 2017, every cash register must be GoBD-compliant. This means that every single transaction must be recorded and stored for a period of at least ten years. It must also be demonstrably verifiable that the cash register is tamper-proof.


Depending on the type of shop, a certain amount of change often remains in the cash register outside of the shop's opening hours. The general recommendation from the police and insurance industry is to empty the cash register and leave the drawer open outside of opening hours. That would not prevent the break-in, but it would reduce damage to the cash register itself (break-in).


So-called "self-scanning" has been propagated for years, with which the customer can handle the checkout process himself without the help of a cashier . The sense and purpose is to save personnel. Such self-service checkouts are currently used at IKEA and Real stores, for example . Far-reaching changes are to be expected in the course of product labeling with RFID chips.

Tax aspects (Germany)


The following principles apply to assessing the correctness of cash accounting:

  • Tax Code (AO), in particular Sections 145 to 147 AO ,
  • BMF letter of November 26, 2010, IV A 4 - S 0316/08 / 10004-07
  • BMF letter of January 9, 1996, IV A 8 - S 0310 - 5/95 (only to be used for cash registers that cannot be "upgraded")
  • GoBD in the new version valid from January 1, 2020

The GoBD replace the following previously valid decrees:

The basic requirement is that the registration or PC cash register is GoBD-proof, i.e. that it meets the requirements of the GoBD. Since January 1, 2002, PC cash registers have had to save all the individual data of a "bonged" business transaction and, in the event of an external tax audit, make it available in a format that can be evaluated automatically. If a cash register system cannot electronically record and archive the tax-relevant data of a receipt due to its design, its continued use until December 31, 2016 was not objected to. Since then, it has no longer been allowed to be used to determine tax revenue. However, it is necessary that technically possible software adjustments or memory expansions are made to the cash register used (so-called upgrade obligation). In fact, this upgrade does not take place because the cash register service provider does not provide any information or the entrepreneur thinks he is audit-proof due to a lack of individual records. In doing so, he overlooks the fact that the failure to upgrade constitutes a serious formal defect which, in cash-intensive companies, leads to an addition of at least 3 - 8% of sales.

Open till

In the case of the "open cash register" (which is also known as an open cash register, drawer cash register, barge, or in the catering trade as a counter cash register), the requirements for proper cash management - in contrast to cash management with the help of a cash register / PC cash register - involve a lot of effort connected. This follows from the daily count of the daily solution and the daily cash report with the receipts to be kept. Here, too, it is principally necessary to record every single trade with a sufficient description of the business transaction. The following are to be recorded: content of the transaction, name, company and address of the contractual partner.

According to the prevailing opinion up to now , the obligation to record individually did not have to be fulfilled if it can be proven that goods were sold to an indefinite number of unknown and also undetectable persons. This exception only applied in retail, i.e. not e.g. B. for taxis, fairgrounds and hotels. But even after that, records for income tax must always be made for known customers, which must be taken with the daily cash report and thus kept. However, since records have to be kept according to § 22 UStG , which are also preliminary for income tax, there is always an obligation to record, even if the customer's name is not known. In addition, the open cash register would not be able to drop the cash register without recording the cash proceeds and thus the presumption of correctness of § 158 AO would not be applicable. There is no longer an area without a record-keeping obligation in accordance with § 22 UStG. These records are mandatory for income tax purposes. If they are missing, the cash management is not properly i. S. d. § 158 AO. If there is a full or partial recording obligation for individual business transactions, they must be recorded in a cash book and compared with the counted content of the open cash register at the end of business and then included in the cash report. If individual records are required, the usual counting of the daily solution is not sufficient. The individual obligation to record is legally the rule, since it can only be waived if goods are sold to a large number of unknown persons. This means that the open cash register in restaurants, for showmen, in pubs and bars as main and counter cash registers is ruled out because the factual requirements for their use are not met. Because already § 22 UStG requires individual records that must be continuously recorded with receipts. Daily counting of the daily solution is not sufficient as this cannot replace continuous records. There is therefore no option to either keep individual records for all business transactions in cash-intensive operations or, alternatively, to keep an open till and only count the daily solution at the end of business.

If individual records are already being made, e.g. B. in the form of reservations, entries, the regulations for individual recording must be fully met. Often due to other regulations, such. B. § 22 UStG already kept individual records (records based on different tax rates).

In the case of an open cash register without individual record-keeping, the cash receipts must be proven by means of a so-called cash report in which they are reconciled daily with the initial and final balance of the cash register. For the preparation of a cash report, the entire business cash balance including hard money - regardless of where the money is stored (e.g. safe money, waiters' cash registers, change, postage, etc.) - must be counted daily. The cash balance is then arithmetically increased by the withdrawals and expenditures and to reduce the deposits, so that the income results. Evidence of withdrawals, deposits and expenditures must be provided. Only a cash report prepared in this way is permitted. Tables created with standard software (e.g. Office programs) are not tamper-proof and therefore do not comply with the regulations. Software available on the market is only recognized as properly if a subsequent change is impossible or - if possible - is evident from a corresponding note automatically set by the program. In addition, the determination of the cash balance at the end of the day (daily solution) should be proven by a so-called counting protocol. Rounding or estimates are not permitted, since the necessary count is then refuted and only an arithmetically managed book register has been kept. It is a violation of § 158 AO . The records according to § 22 UStG also apply to cash proceeds and are to be kept separately for each open cash register, if z. B. several branches are run or at stalls at different weekly markets. It is therefore not possible to have a single cash register for two different shops or businesses. Then there is an additional estimate according to § 162 AO . Since the cash management in cash-intensive businesses violates § 158 AO because of this formal error, it becomes a material error and a full estimate is made. The open till represents a particular risk because, due to a lack of individual records - only the total amount is counted as a daily solution - it does not provide an overview of the cash proceeds. This opens up the broad scope for third parties (staff and other third parties) to grab the till without being noticed. This is a fundamental objection to the supposedly secure cash management.

New regulation by § 146 Abs. 1 AO since January 1st, 2017

The individual recording obligation is now regulated by law. This means that there is a general obligation to keep individual records. For reasons of reasonableness, an exception is permissible when the retailer sells goods in cash to customers with unknown names if no electronic records are made. In principle, considerations of reasonableness can also be applied to services. Due to § 22 UStG , § 144 AO and the Money Laundering Act and in the absence of unreasonableness, individual recordings have become the norm.

Risk to tax advisor

The open till can hardly be used properly. As a rule, their use itself - regardless of the other, hardly avoidable serious formal errors - already leads to a serious error, since the factual requirements for this cash management are not met. There is almost always a lack of the necessary low cash payments in the cent range. This serious formal error leads to additional tax. This triggers the tax consultant's obligation to pay damages under civil law if he is contractually responsible for cash management and does not end this source of error with individual records. He recognizes the error if he only receives cash reports without individual records. In the case of so-called evidence liability, the consultant must object to this evidently incorrect cash management in the long-term mandate, even if he himself has excluded responsibility for the basic records for cash management through the consulting contract. This claim for damages by the tax debtor can also be seized by the tax office or asserted by the insolvency administrator in insolvency proceedings in order to increase the mass.

Not using the cash register

The business transaction must be entered into the cash register immediately when the order is placed and at the latest when the service is provided. A summarized entry only after payment is grossly incorrect, even if it is temporarily saved outside the cash register. If the business transaction is not entered into the cash register, or not entered immediately, this already constitutes tax evasion. The cash register assumes that the proceeds / fees are booked in, i.e. registered, immediately. This entry must be made chronologically, so that the reference to a supposedly intended subsequent booking is only an irrelevant protective claim. Such a registration is refuted by entering it into the training memory. This is often referred to as the trainee button and is transparent on the receipt as “no invoice”, “information invoice” or “interim invoice” even for the customer and the tax advisor. This means that these sales do not appear on the Z-Receipt and therefore also not in the pre-registration. The training memory is therefore also checked at every checkout or company audit. For third parties, this omitted entry can be clearly recognized by the fact that there is no receipt. It becomes even clearer if the cash register remains open, i.e. the change is taken out without entering the proceeds, i.e. booking through registration. This is quickly demonstrated in the digital test through the so-called time window. Due to the failure to introduce the obligation to provide receipts in Germany, it is never guaranteed that the data is registered. End consumers also recognize this quickly when they only ask for a receipt after payment. The entry has not been made if the individual business transactions now have to be entered and a receipt cannot be printed out immediately at the push of a button. The customer's entitlement to the receipt follows from the civil law entitlement to a receipt. In the absence of an obligation to provide evidence of receipts that are required to be issued, the legally planned unalterability through the certification in the draft bill is ineffective because the immutability is irrelevant if the business transactions are not saved at all due to lack of registration.

Downsizing from cash register to open cash register

The obligation to save the individual recordings is often viewed as undesirable. From a layman's point of view, the use of a cash register with its increased requirements by the GoBD such as process documentation and internal control system as well as the certification that may be required in the future is avoided by instead using the cash register with the open cash register. This is an expensive mistake. On the one hand, it must be checked whether there is already an obligation to record the cash proceeds individually from § 22 UStG or due to the accounting obligation. Then it has to be considered that the open till is almost always inadmissible due to a lack of low-value proceeds and thus leads to the refusal of § 158 AO . Incidentally, the list of probable formal errors is so large that the inexperienced taxpayer, as well as his accountant or tax advisor, almost inevitably make serious formal errors. Downsizing is therefore extremely risky because it threatens additional taxes.

Immutability of the data (§ 146 Abs. 4 AO)

The data entered in the cash register must be unchangeable ( § 146 Paragraph 4 AO ) so that the presumption of § 158 AO applies. According to GoBD, this must be proven by the taxpayer for digital data . The immutability is refuted if the recorded data is automatically transferred by the system. The requirements mentioned in the GoBD relate to organizational and technical solutions. This is not possible under the current system. So far, however, these are only theoretical ideas, as the GoBD themselves show variants that this is refuted. So the technical solution that offers the necessary legal framework with the necessary legal certainty is still missing. So far this has only been the case with taxis. B. in Hamburg, who voluntarily participate in the INSIKA process. In the meantime there are also taxis in NRW whose journeys are recorded with INSIKA. This can be seen on the INSIKA sticker on each taxi.

Cash register compulsory and individual records

There is no legal obligation in Germany to post cash receipts with the help of a cash register. If no cash register is used, this is referred to as an open cash register or counter or cash register. However, many individual circumstances result in an individual recording obligation for each individual business transaction. Theoretically, it can also be done manually, although this is hardly sustainable in a cash-intensive company with numerous business transactions. In restaurants where receipts for entertainment costs are issued, there is a de facto cash register obligation because, according to the letter of the Federal Ministry of Finance of November 21, 1994 - BStBl 1994 I p. 855 - a tax recognition of the entertainment receipt is only possible if it is generated automatically in a cash register or PC checkout takes place. In the case of sales at different sales tax rates, a cash register facilitates the necessary records of business transactions with assignment to the respective tax rates. In fact, there is a cash register obligation, otherwise the records according to 22 UStG can hardly be managed differently at most companies. A drawer without records according to § 22 UStG is already formally incorrect if charges are incurred at different tax rates.

In the case of a bookkeeping obligation, the individual record-keeping requirement follows from the fact that the cash proceeds must be made transparent. If there is no accounting obligation, the obligation to make individual records follows from § 22 UStG, even if all charges are only subject to one tax rate. Because of the obligation to document all cash proceeds and cash expenditures by means of receipts, the recording obligations are identical for the manual form of the open cash register and the cash register. It is therefore grossly wrong to count only one daily solution. Then the individual record obligation, the partial individual record obligation and the obligation to create receipts so that the tax bases can be checked are disregarded.

Digital cash check

The digital records in the cash register itself, but also in the upstream systems, can be checked for completeness and correctness by means of a so-called digital cash check in the context of tax advice or the tax office check or tax audit. In this way, misappropriations and so-called double shortenings etc. can be discovered. According to the AO and the GoBD, every cash management is faulty if the digital records cannot be changed. This always intervenes if the recordings are overwritten manually or automatically (due to insufficient recording volume). The problems arise especially with taximeters and cash registers. In the meantime, there are EDP programs with which the auditor can digitally verify the plausibility of the recorded data using the IDEA software and the tax consultant using the ACL software.

Legal regulations for cash registers in Austria

The legal framework in Austria until December 31, 2015 was very similar to the German one.

As part of the 2015 tax reform, legal changes to cash receipts were made effective January 1, 2016:

  • Introduction of a cash register obligation
  • Changes to the individual recording
  • Changes to the issue of receipts

From 2016 onwards, all businesses (commercial, self-employed and agriculture and forestry) must use an electronic recording system (= cash registers) for individual recording of cash transactions if they exceed € 15,000 in sales and more than € 7,500 in "cash sales" (for a precise definition see source).

From 2017, all cash registers must also have tamper protection, with:

  • Safety device
  • Data acquisition log
  • Summation memory
  • Signature creation

Web links

Commons : Cash Register  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Cash register  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  • Erich Huber: Cash registers and cash register systems in tax law. LexisNexis, Vienna 2012, ISBN 978-3-7007-5360-5
  • BMF, principles for the proper management and storage of books, records and documents in electronic form as well as for data access (GoBD), BStBl I 2014, 1450.
  • Teutemacher, manual for cash management, NWB-Verlag 2015
  • Martin Henn, GoBD - Questions of doubt: recording in land registers or basic records as well as timely bookings and records, Der Betrieb 2015, 2660
  • Höft / Danelsing / Grams / Rook, estimates, estimates in tax law, Schäfer / Poeschel-Verlag Stuttgart, 2014.
  • Steinmaurer / Lehner, Cash Management & the Role of the Financial Police, Cash Directive 2012. dbv -Verlag, Graz and Vienna, 2013
  • Gerd Achilles, Cash Management - Securely Documenting Cash Transactions, Datev Verlag Nürnberg 2016
  • Arno Becker, The BMF's draft law on protection against manipulation of basic digital records, Der Betrieb 2016, 1090
  • Jens Reckendorf, The field of tension for a proper discussion with the examiner, BBK 2016, 479 ff

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Inventor of the Week Archive. MIT, April 2002, accessed February 8, 2013 .
  2. Patrick Robertson, What was the first time and when? , 1977, p. 191
  3. Cash registers: Companies go to court, October 30, 2015, accessed October 30, 2015.
  4. Huber, Reckendorf, Zisky: The immutability of the (cash) bookkeeping according to § 146 Abs. 4 AO in the IT age and INSIKA . In: BBK . 12 to 14 NWB Verlag, 2013.
  5. ^ Tip from the police in the Schwäbische Zeitung
  6. ^ Note in the Badische Zeitung.
  7. Tobias Teutemacher: Checklist for proper cash management . In: Special edition NWB Accounting - BBK . January 2013.
  8. Storage of digital documents for cash transactions , BMF letter of November 26, 2010. Federal Ministry of Finance, accessed on February 18, 2020 .
  9. ^ Brinkmann, Estimates in Tax Law, Erich-Schmidt-Verlag, 2nd edition, page 152
  10. Hermann Pump: The open cash register with summary cash management as a system error according to § 158 AO, StBp 2017, 84 .
  11. Overlooked by Adomat, supplement to NWB No. 51/2014, p. 3, 4
  12. Assmann, Taxation of Gastronomy, 7th edition, Rn. 514, 515
  13. Pump: The expensive waiver of using a cash register, DStZ 2014, 648.
  14. BMF Tax Reform Austria 2015. Accessed on December 4, 2015 .
  15. ↑ Compulsory cash register 2016. Accessed on May 23, 2016 .
  16. RIS - Entire legal regulation for Cash Register Security Ordinance - Federal law consolidated, version of April 1st, 2017. Retrieved March 29, 2017 .