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An article being carried today in local media, presumably on the back of an HMRC press release which we cannot track down at source.

Island Echo: ISLE OF WIGHT HOTELIER JAILED FOR £350,000 VAT FRAUD

Isle of Wight Radio: Isle Of Wight Hotelier Jailed For Fraud

Apparently the offence was a £350k suppression of VAT.  A few points from this:

First, the reports – in fairness probably copying the original press release – don’t give all the details, but where there is VAT suppression there will normally be Corporation Tax and/or Income Tax as well.  £350k is quite a lot of VAT for the period concerned and hotels on the Island, so possibly there are other taxes in here as well.  If not its likely the fraud was larger.

Secondly, tax fraud happens local to us, and people are caught – its not a large company, global or remote inner city issue – it happens in rural areas like the Isle of Wight and amongst smaller businesses.  Be alert; be responsible.

Finally, a custodial sentence for £350k seems harsh – as a firm we have negotiated civil settlements with HMRC in this magnitude.   Speculating, were there exacerbating circumstances here, for example a lack of co–operation or attempts to deeply hide the fraud?  The message is if you have things to hide tax wise, come clean as soon as possible and get good advice.  It will mitigate the effects.

For the record, neither Whitefield nor our management have acted for the individual / businesses.