Furniture boss jailed for £150,000 VAT scam

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.

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