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Furniture boss jailed for £150k VAT scam

Press release   •   Apr 08, 2019 11:01 BST

A discount furniture store boss has been jailed for a scam that cheated taxpayers out of more than £150,000.

Anthony Whitehead, 60, of Bostock Hall in Middlewich, Cheshire, and owner of Warehouse Prestwich, lied on his tax returns to ensure that he paid almost no VAT, despite his business sales being £2,229,197.

Whitehead was caught after HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers analysed his company records and found that he had dishonestly declared identical sales and purchases on his VAT returns between May 2011 and August 2016, paying just £205 in VAT over five years.

Tim Atkins, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“Whitehead was doing very well from his business but he chose to be greedy. This was a deliberate and ongoing scam, but we’ve pulled the rug from under his feet and his reputation as an honest businessman is in tatters.

“VAT fraud steals money from vital public services such as schools and hospitals. This money is equivalent to the wages of six trainee firefighters. I urge anyone with information about tax fraud to report it to HMRC online or call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

Whitehead admitted VAT fraud totalling £150,440 and was sentenced to two years and four months in jail at Chester Crown Court on Thursday 4 April 2019.

HMRC has begun confiscation proceedings to recover the money owed.

Information about any type of tax fraud can be reported to HMRC online at

Notes to Editors

1. Anthony Whitehead, DOB 25/08/1958, of Bostock Hall, Middlewich, Cheshire, CW10. He admitted two counts of Fraudulent Evasion of VAT contrary to S.72 Value Added Tax Act 1994 at Chester Crown Court on 15 March 2019. Whitehead was sentenced to two years and four months at the same court on 4 April 2019

2. Fire & Rescue Services (UK-wide): Trainee Firefighter Starting Salary: £22,459

3. Follow HMRC Press Office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice.

4. HMRC's Flickr channel:

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.

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