Jailed VAT fraudster told to sell homes to repay HMRC or stay in prison

A shopkeeper who was jailed for tax fraud, has been told her prison sentence will be extended if she fails to repay the quarter of a million pounds she owes HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Maureen Carpenter was jailed for 18 months in February this year for submitting false VAT returns. She has now been warned that unless she repays £250,000 within the next three months, she faces another three years behind bars.

HMRC’s taxation investigators uncovered the fraud after checking the VAT returns that Carpenter had submitted for her son’s Blackpool off-licence.

They discovered that she had only fraudulently declared sales from the shop’s opening time to 5pm, although the off licence actually traded until 11pm. Officers found cashbooks which showed the true daily takings during a search of the shop.

Carpenter was charged with fraudulent evasion of VAT and it was later discovered that her assets included a number of residential properties in the UK and a holiday home in Kissimmee, Florida.

Her attempts to deliberately defraud HMRC by producing a ‘mickey mouse’ set of accounts did not go down well in court.

She has now been ordered to repay £250,000 from her property assets – more than twice the £107,000 in VAT she originally owed – because she had, in effect, lived a criminal lifestyle.

Dr Anjulika Salhan, a Director and Head of Salhan Accountants’ taxation investigation team, said: “Many tax fraudsters are shocked to find their debts are not written off when they are sent to prison – the money still has to be repaid to HMRC with interest and the courts have the power to increase the financial penalty and order property to be confiscated to pay the amount owed.”

She added: “Only a minority of individuals intentionally set out to defraud HMRC. There are many people who unwittingly break HMRC’s tax rules and find they are under the spotlight of a tax investigation.

“At Salhan Accountants, our team work extremely hard for clients subjected to a tax investigation. We not only clarify the issues and the process, but come up with solutions too.”

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