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Ascot plumber jailed for £160k tax fraud

Press Release   •   Jun 28, 2013 09:27 BST

A Berkshire plumber who failed to pay almost £160,000 in tax and National Insurance contributions over 15 years has been jailed.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers found that Kevin Lay, 49, had failed to submit Self Assessment returns or complete VAT returns since setting up his plumbing and maintenance business in 1997. He also ignored an HMRC initiative to disclose the unpaid tax he owed.

John Cooper, Assistant Director Criminal Investigation for HMRC, said:

“In 2011, HMRC ran a campaign giving plumbers like Kevin Lay the opportunity to disclose any unpaid tax they owed. He chose not to take this opportunity, and instead found himself subject to criminal proceedings.”

At Reading Crown Court yesterday (27 June), Kevin Lay was jailed for two years.  He had admitted two counts of cheating the public revenue at an earlier hearing. He was sentenced for two years for each count to run concurrently.

Upon sentencing, Her Honour Judge Morris said:

“This was not a sophisticated fraud…but fraudulent from the outset. You knew you should have paid tax but persistently avoided doing so. Such a fraudulent enterprise over such a long period of time must expect an immediate custodial sentence because the impact on the public purse is significant.”

Simon York, HMRC Director of Risk and Intelligence Services, said:

“We want people targeted by our campaigns to come forward, use the opportunity to put the record straight, and pay the tax due on the best possible terms. It really is better to come to us before HMRC finds you.”

Notes for editors

  1. Defendant’s details: Kevin Charles Lay, DOB 07/01/64, of Bouldish Farm Road, Ascot, Berkshire.
  1. Kevin Lay was arrested in November 2011. He was later charged with two counts of cheating the public revenue of £158,289, which comprises £95,395 in Income Tax and National Insurance, and £25,719 in VAT, plus interest. Lay’s offences occurred between 1997 and 2011.

3.  HMRC targeted plumbers in a special campaign. Other campaigns launched so far have targeted offshore investments, medical professionals, VAT defaulters, coaches and tutors, electricians, online traders, direct sellers and people who had failed to complete tax returns. For more information:

4.  Plumbers who have come forward in response to the Plumbers Tax Safe Plan (PTSP) have already paid over £4 million in outstanding tax. A further £2.4 million has also been recovered from follow-up enquiries.

  1. Photographs of Kevin Lay are available on HMRC’s Flickr channel
  1. Follow HMRC on Twitter @HMRCgovuk

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.

HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.