A plumber from Hampshire was recently given a four-month jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, after Southampton Crown Court found him guilty of tax evasion.
Peter Mack set himself up in business in 1997, but neglected to register his earnings with the Revenue. After making detailed enquiries, it was discovered that the plumber evaded VAT and income tax to the tune of about £88,000. After interest was added to this amount, his total liability was £112,000.
Mack was arrested on the 28th July 2011 and on the 2nd of April this year he pleaded guilty to fraud.
In addition to the suspended prison sentence, Mack must do 100 hours community service and pay costs of £1,800. He has already repaid £40,000 the HMRC and the Revenue will try and recover the remainder of the funds through civil proceedings.
An assistant director of criminal investigations at HMRC, John Cooper, explained that Mack did not register for self-assessment even though he had set up his own business. He paid no VAT or income tax and therefore he gained an unfair advantage over his competitors and deprived the government of vital funds.
HMRC has been investigating plumbers and related tradesmen who failed to take advantage of the Plumbers Tax Safe Plan last year. More than £4 million has already been collected from those who did take advantage of the disclosure opportunity, but HMRC will continue to chase those who did not come forward.
The Revenue creates these opportunities to give people the chance to put their tax affairs in order in exchange for minimum penalties. However, the department stresses that those who ignore the opportunity will find themselves facing much stricter penalties when they are tracked down.