A self-employed bricklayer who defrauded customs out of more than £30,000 in income tax refunds has avoided jail.
James Tunaley, from Huncoat, lied on his self assessment returns between 2013 and 2015 to collect tax rebates by ‘submitting fictitiously large amounts of expenditure’.
The father-of-two was caught out by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators when they checked Tunaley’s bank accounts and found the income paid didn’t match what he declared on his tax returns.
Tunaley, 28, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of fraud by false representation by submitting income tax returns which he knew or believed to be false.
He was given a nine-month jail sentence, suspended for 12 months with 100 hours unpaid work.
Ellen Shaw, prosecuting, said Tunaley’s actions were ‘not fraudulent from the outset’ but he then submitted 10 different fraudulent versions of his self-assessment tax returns.
She said: “The income tax deducted in each of these versions were increased and were disproportionate in comparison to the amount of income received by the defendant.
“The repayments received by the defendant were paid into a bank account controlled by him and the monies were then transferred into various other accounts who he is a signatory for.”
The court heard how Tunaley received £21,637.12 in false tax repayments and a further £10,289.27 was withheld by HMRC.
When asked what he had done with the money, Tunaley told HMRC: “Paid bills and stuff like that, just normal stuff, everyday life.”
Miss Shaw told the hearing that Tunaley has been repaying some of the money at around £100 per month.
"It’s pretty amateurish"
Philip Holden, defending, said Tunaley’s best mititgation was his early guilty plea. He said: “This wasn’t fraudulent from the outset.
"He is a very simple man, a bricklayer who was struggling to work out his tax affairs. He didn’t have an accountant but now does.
"It’s not the most sophisticated attempt of fraud on the revenue.
"He was always frankly going to be found out. It’s pretty amateurish.”
Sentencing, Recorder Timothy Ryan said: “What you discovered was that you could get tax rebates through falsely stating the amount of your expenses against your income.”