HMRC prosecutes company director who exaggerated business expenses

The director of a construction company, who lied about her business expenses in a VAT fraud, has been jailed for two years following a HMRC tax investigation into her company’s finances.

Avril Elliott, 49, from Edinburgh, pleaded guilty to submitting a series of fraudulent VAT returns between 2008 and 2013.

These fraudulent returns hugely overstated her business expenses, resulting in her receiving £275,000 she was not entitled to. Elliott then used the fraudulently obtained money to pay for a comfortable lifestyle and to fund company loans.

Cheryl Burr, Assistant Director with HMRC’s, Fraud Investigation Service, said: “Elliott’s actions cheated the exchequer out of significant sums of money, which funded a lifestyle well beyond her legitimate income. She thought she’d found a way to exploit the tax system, putting her own greed above funding vital public services.

“Most people pay the tax they owe, when they owe it, but a small minority think they are above the law. No matter how well resourced someone is, nobody is beyond our reach. Tax fraud is a serious crime and I ask anyone with information about those who may be involved to contact our 24 hour hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

Elliott’s tax fraud started to unravel after an HMRC inspection of her company finances. Steps are now being taken by HMRC to recover the fraudulently obtained funds.

Dr Anjulika Salhan, a director and tax investigation specialist with Salhan Accountants commented: “HMRC has become increasingly litigious and we are seeing a growing number of prosecutions under their wide reaching criminal investigation powers, where tax fraud is suspected.

“Whilst there are some individuals who intentionally set out to commit tax fraud, equally many business owners unwittingly fall foul of HMRC’s rules and find themselves under the spotlight of an investigation. If expert tax investigation advice is not sought urgently a hefty fine or – worse still – prosecution through the criminal courts could result.

“At Salhan Accountants, we work extremely hard for clients subjected to a taxation investigation. We not only clarify the issues and the process, but come up with solutions too. Our experience, professional reputation, forensic attention to detail and negotiating skills mean we are well-placed to achieve positive outcomes.

“Whether an individual or company, talking to us is your best step towards addressing a taxation investigation and moving on with your life.”

For more information about our taxation investigation services, please contact us.