AN online trader and sacked ex-HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) lied on his tax return to steal more than £12,000 from the taxpayer – only to be caught by an investigation by his former employer.
Neil James Foster, 32, of Clappers Gate, Easington Village, set up an online business trading games consoles, video games and DVDs after being dismissed from the HMRC’s contact centre in Peterlee in 2009.
But an investigation into his tax affairs found that he had fraudulently declared business losses that enabled him to claim Income Tax repayments totalling £12,319.59.
Alongside his online business, Foster also worked for an energy company, earning a salary with tax deducted through PAYE.
During this employment he submitted Self Assessment forms which fraudulently showed his business had made financial losses of almost £31,000 between 2009 and 2011.
The alleged losses were offset against tax he had already paid through his employment with the energy company, and Foster was paid tax refunds totalling £12,319.
After attending a voluntary interview on 30 June 2014, he pleaded guilty to four counts of being knowingly involved in the fraudulent evasion of Income Tax at Newcastle Magistrates’ Court on 8 April 2015.
Foster was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and ordered pay £165 in costs at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court today, 22 May 2015.
Diane Donnelly, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said: “As someone who used to work for HMRC, Foster knew that lying on his tax return, with the sole aim of lining his own pockets, was going to land him in court.
“Tax fraud is not a victimless crime, and we will always rigorously pursue those who we suspect of being involved in such criminality. It is vital that we are able to effectively collect the taxes needed to keep the country’s public services running.”