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Blushing bookkeeper jailed

Press release   •   Sep 12, 2016 16:48 BST

A Plymouth bridal shop owner and part-time bookkeeper, who admitted stealing more than £250,000 in tax, has been jailed for 32 months after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Alison Jane Newton, 47, who ran two businesses buying and selling bridal dresses, while also moonlighting as a bookkeeper, admitted making fraudulent VAT repayment claims for her businesses. She also admitted to stealing from a client, who entrusted her with his tax affairs.

HMRC investigators discovered Newton had made 13 bogus VAT repayment claims for her businesses, between June 2012 and June 2015. She claimed for a string of false expenses including refurbishment of her shop and increased expenditure on bridal gowns, but then declared a subsequent drop in sales due to the shop’s closure. Newton even provided HMRC with a false bank statement in an attempt to conceal her fraud.

Colin Spinks, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“Newton abused her position of trust as a bookkeeper, stealing the money that her client paid to her in good faith to put his tax affairs in order. Not only did she steal from a client, she also stole from honest taxpayers.

“Tax fraud is not acceptable and we will tackle it head on to make sure there is a level playing field for all businesses to operate fairly. Anyone with information about this type of activity should contact HMRC on our 24-hour Hotline on 0800 59 5000."

When HMRC investigators searched Newton’s shop, they found a holdall full of business documents which didn’t belong to her. Investigations revealed that she had also been stealing from a client, a self-employed IT consultant, who had trusted her to keep his tax affairs in order. Over a period of seven years, he paid Newton more than £190,000 in order to settle his tax bills and pay her fees but only a small amount of that was passed on to HMRC.

The total amount of Newton’s fraud was £259,033.16.

Notes for editors

      1. On 12 August 2016, Alison Jane Newton (DOB 10/9/1969) Yeomans Way, Plymouth, pleaded guilty to evasion of VAT contrary to the VAT Act 1984 s.72(1)and cheating the public revenue contrary to common law at Plymouth Crown Court.
      2. Bella Bella Bridal Wear Ltd is now dissolved.
      3. Anyone with information regarding tax fraud is encouraged to contact the HMRC 24-hour Hotline on 0800 59 5000 or via the website: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/reportingfraud/online.htm
      4. Follow HMRC’s Press Office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice
      5. HMRC's Flickr channel: www.flickr.com/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.