Wise Self-Employed People Take Professional Advice on Their Tax Affairs

Self-employed people are responsible for sorting out their own tax affairs and a little professional assistance in doing so can pay dividends in the end. That, however, certainly did not happen in one case in which a military historian who failed to declare income of nearly £1 million ended up being sent to prison.

Over a period of more than six years, the self-employed historian carried out work for, amongst others, the Ministry of Defence, schools and television production companies. However, when HM Revenue and Customs launched an inquiry, it emerged that he had paid no Income Tax on substantial earnings.

He explained that he was entirely engrossed in his subject, had given no thought to financial matters and was oblivious to the need to pay tax. However, he ultimately pleaded guilty to fraudulent evasion of tax and was jailed for two years and three months. In challenging the length of that sentence before the Court of Appeal, his lawyers described him as a highly dysfunctional and eccentric man. He had expressed remorse and was in failing health.

Ruling on the matter, the Court noted that considerable sums of money were involved. As a highly intelligent man, he would have been aware of his obligation to pay tax. However, he had not been strongly motivated by personal gain and was of previous good character. His sentence was reduced to one year and eight months.