A West Yorkshire mechanic who stole more than £300,000 in VAT payments has been jailed after attempting to justify the fraud by telling HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) that he was ‘no accountant’.
Between 2003 and 2014, Ian John Coleman, 53, of Knowler Way, Liversedge, pocketed VAT charged to customers of his vehicle repair business, Top Gear Transmissions Ltd, instead of passing the money to HMRC.
Martin McDonnell, HMRC spokesperson, said: “Coleman thought that he’d found a way to exploit the tax system. He was wrong, and now he’s now paying the price with a jail sentence. This is money that should have been funding vital public services, and Coleman created an uneven playing field for his honest competitors.
Most people pay the tax they owe, when they owe it, but a small minority think they are above the law. 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.”
The fraud was uncovered when HMRC found anomalies in Coleman’s paperwork. And during a search of his lock-up, on Brick Street, Cleckheaton, in March 2015, investigators discovered the business’ true records – detailing takings dating back to 2003.
After reviewing the accounts, HMRC established that Coleman had also avoided paying more than £15,000 in VAT by under-declaring scrap metal sales.
Coleman denied any wrongdoing, but was unable to offer any explanation for repeatedly failing to submit accurate VAT returns, stating that he was ‘no accountant’.
The businessman pleaded guilty to 12 counts of the fraudulent evasion of VAT at Leeds Crown Court on 1 July 2016, and was sentenced to 32 months imprisonment by Recorder Woolfall today, 12 August 2016.