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IT Boss Resorted to £300,000 Tax Fraud to Save Her Business

ComputerSmall businesses are often like families and directors feel a very personal obligation towards their employees. However, in one striking case, a woman’s battle to keep her IT company afloat and her staff in work led to her imprisonment for tax fraud.

The middle-aged woman told her employees that she was deducting Income Tax and National Insurance from their salaries through the PAYE system. She went so far as to forge P60 forms so that her staff believed that they were being paid correctly. She was in fact using the money which should have been paid to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to keep the company from insolvency.

She also failed to account for substantial sums in VAT and, after the truth emerged, she admitted two counts of tax fraud, committed over a five-year period. The loss to HMRC was estimated at £300,000. She had been disqualified from acting as a director following the failure of another company that she had run and admitted flouting that ban. She was jailed for three years and nine months.

In challenging the length of her sentence before the Court of Appeal, her lawyers pointed out that her employees were not harmed as HMRC had altered their records so that they would not lose future entitlements to benefits and pensions. Although she should have wound up the business, she bore a profound sense of responsibility for her five long-serving employees, whom she treated as family. In cutting her sentence to three years, the Court acknowledged that she did not gain personally from her misconceived attempts to stay in business.