Lock me up, tie me down and punish me!

HMRC are increasing prosecutions although they do need to work on the cheese level of their headlines. Obviously when a tax consultancy practice starts stating that prosecutions are on the way up, they are scaremongering. We are not; it’s true and to prove it we include a little table of cases in the last two months along with some politically incorrect comments for added reader entertainment. The reason for this week’s article stems from some social media banter over the past few weeks. Let me explain:

Every week I hear political rantings or statements of fact that really irritate me. Last week a shared social media post stated the Tories heads ought to be on stakes, which allegedly was made by Paul O’Grady. The rationale appeared to be the proposed tax credit cuts. I am not sure the intended punishment fits the alleged crime and I could not help commenting. So I sympathised but commented that a benefits regime ought to encourage people to help themselves (in my view). The response explained that the husband works a forty hour week and doesn’t have time to seek training and the family would be worse off if the wife worked because of the cut in tax credits. I think the response explained my point although I am not sure there was willingness on the party I was communicating with.

In continuing the unfortunate ability I have to state things without due consideration for the ramifications, today someone on a social media site ranted about the big multinational companies undertaking tax evasion. Evidently, I could not resist another comment to explain that tax evasion is somewhat a widespread issue and by way of evidence:

Press release date Press release Comments
6 November Martial Arts tax fraudsters caged
Five men, who were part of a seven-strong gang that tried to steal more than £1 million in tax by setting up sham companies they claimed traded in television broadcasting rights for cage fighting events, have been jailed for a total of almost 19 years.

What happened to the other two men?

HMRC are now able through Connect to link a company’s declared activity to test whether it is genuine without much need to make formal enquiries!

  Cigarette smuggler’s plan goes pear-shaped
A lorry driver who smuggled more than 147 million cigarettes, worth an estimated £32 million in lost duty, into the UK hidden behind crates of rotting pears, has been jailed for almost seven years.
I do like the fact that officers would have had to move the rotting pears to undercover the cigarettes!
28 October Creative accountant jailed for stealing client’s VAT
A Londonderry accountant, who stole over £55,000 in VAT payments from one of his own clients, has been jailed for 12 months after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
It doesn’t sound like this was a creative fraud at all although it is a demonstration of how HMRC take action against professionals even where the liabilities are small.
22 October Hammer to fall on criminal’s gold
Almost 150 kilos of gold, estimated to be worth more than £2.5 million, which was smuggled into the UK by a criminal gang, is being sold at auction in Belfast next week.
I wish I knew about the auction in advance as I am sure there were bargains to be had.
The Government could have taken the opportunity to replenish its supply following the reserve sale by Labour, arguably equally criminal!
14 October

HMRC’s landlord campaign brings in more than £50 million

A campaign aimed at helping residential landlords get their tax affairs in order has brought in more than £50 million, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) announced today.

Rent will be on the way up at this rate!
6 October Tobacco smugglers fall foul of HMRC in smuggling attempt
Four men who smuggled 2.7 million cigarettes and over 774kg of tobacco into the UK, most of them hidden in a cover load of frozen chickens, have been sentenced.
I think the use of “smugglers” and “smuggling” in the same sentence is awful but not as bad as using foul. I trust the next smugglers smuggling smuggle in summer using defrosted chickens.
  Kick in the teeth for absconding VAT fraudster
A Northampton businessman, who admitted falsifying records for a bogus dental supplies business to steal more than £40,000 in VAT, but then absconded before he was sentenced, has been jailed for 26 months.
Absconding for £40,000 is not worth it, is it? Fortunately, free accommodation and food for 26 months will probably save the individual in excess of £40,000. He will probably get free dental treatment as well. There may be some downsides to imprisonment – bars of soap on the floor etc.
5 October Payback time for closet VAT fraudster
A London pensioner who hid in a wardrobe to avoid discovery during an operation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has been ordered to repay criminal profits of almost £275,000, within three months, or remain in prison for a further two and a half years.
“Sorry officer, I was trying to get into Narnia”
 

Up to £200m due after HMRC defeats avoidance scheme in Tribunal

A complex tax avoidance scheme used mainly by property developers and IT contractors has been defeated at Tribunal by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

HMRC forgot to mention that for twenty years they hadn’t defeated the so called scheme and failed to legislate appropriately during that period…..
2 October

Liverpool accountant sentenced for tax fraud
An accountant from Maghull, who was found guilty of tax fraud totaling over £64,000, has been sentenced after he was investigated by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Another accountant….
 

World renowned professor of heart disease sentenced for tax fraud
An award-winning NHS heart specialist, who lied about his income to avoid paying Income Tax and National Insurance, has been ordered to pay a fine of £200,000 within 28 days or face two and a half years in prison.

I’m guessing he will pay the fine but increase his consultancy fees to the NHS and/or go private. A better headline would be “Tax fraud is not for the faint hearted!”
30 September

Swindling chartered surveyor and racehorse owner jailed
A chartered surveyor, who attempted to steal almost £213,000 in Income Tax and VAT by failing to declare his earnings and submitting false repayment claims for the upkeep of a racehorse called ‘Thunder Cat’, and four others, has been jailed for 18 months.

Thunder cat is a no go. HMRC love racehorse owners.
28 September

HMRC recovers £20 million from Tax Cheats in South Wales and South West of England
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) today announced that two taskforces, taking on tax cheats in South Wales and South West England, have collected over £20 million in just three years

Will the economy in South Wales and South West of England come to a standstill? I wonder if officers keep popping into those Somerset farms selling a piece of cheese accompanied by a free glass of homebrew cider.
25 September

Cabbies suspected of rank tax affairs pulled up in NI

A taskforce set up by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to check that taxi operators and drivers have paid the tax they owe, has targeted 8 business premises across Northern Ireland this morning as part of an investigation into suspected tax evasion.

Two initiatives resulting in identification of tax evasion in two different parts of the UK indicates this is going to go national!
 

Cabbies suspected of rank tax affairs pulled up in Scotland

A taskforce set up by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to check that taxi operators and drivers have paid the tax they owe, has targeted 36 business premises across Scotland this morning as part of an investigation into suspected tax evasion.

 
24 September Reading businessman who stole employees tax jailed
A businessman from Reading, who stole more than £1 million from his workers’ pay packets, has been jailed for four years after ignoring demands from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to pay his tax bills.
Surely this is another false statement – it was never the employees’ tax?
23 September

Fourteen arrested in suspected £78m landfill tax fraud investigation

Fourteen people have been arrested across the North East and Yorkshire today as part of an investigation into a suspected £78 million landfill tax fraud.

They just gone and dug themselves a hole!
21 September

Pie in the sky meat trader jailed for tax fraud

A Bridgend meat wholesaler, who faked invoices and falsified business records to steal £428,000 in VAT repayments, has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Oh deer, HMRC had a beef against a meat chopper who they caught on the hoof…..
21 Septembe Sunderland pair jailed after 4m cigarettes found in lorry
Two smugglers who plotted to flood the North East with a shipment of four million illicit cigarettes have been jailed after an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation revealed their scam.
No officer, these are for long term personal use.
18 September

Third time unlucky for convicted VAT fraudster
A convicted South London fraudster, who claimed to be running a jewellery business, has been jailed for four and a half years, his third conviction for VAT fraud, after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

No way, three times and still didn’t get away with it. Definitely time to go back to school!
9 September

Smuggling air stewardess is grounded
An air stewardess who repeatedly smuggled shisha tobacco into the UK from Dubai, evading more than £57,000 in excise duty, has been jailed for 18 months after she was investigated by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Total mile high disappointment! No smoking on board!
 

Rogue fraud investigator jailed
A former HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) criminal investigator from Birmingham, who tipped off his friends when their VAT scam was uncovered, has been jailed today.

Should this result in a public inquiry into HMRC? Surely there can’t be civil servants doing things underhand……
1 September

Bogus paperwork spell jail for for Chinese restaurant VAT fraudster
A Chinese restaurant owner who fraudulently claimed more than £100,000 in VAT repayments has been jailed – after HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) noticed his forged invoices contained spelling mistakes.

I was hoping there was some reason for using the word “spell” like Chinese magic or something but completely disappointed that it was a reference to spelling mistakes!

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