Saturday, 31 October 2009

£1.9 million VAT fraud exposed, eight jailed

There were three financial advisers among the fraudsters. They had set up limited companies trading fictitiously in children’s clothes, fruit and vegetables and animal feed. As a result, they were able to claim the VAT on bogus business expenses; there is no VAT due on the fake sales of those items as they are zero rated. They then pocketed the VAT refunded to these companies and invested it in property and to fund their lifestyles. Those jailed face confiscation hearings to recover monies and assets involved. We understand that the fraud was discovered when suspicions were raised during an investigation into these companies by Customs & Excise when C&E officers attempted to verify those business claims (a routine procedure when it comes to significant VAT claims) and during routine VAT visits to inspect records. The case was then passed to HMRC criminal investigators.

1.5 million pensioners are overpaying tax

The National Audit Office in its Report “H M Revenue & Customs: Dealing with the tax obligations of older people”, estimates that 1.5 million pensioners are overcharged tax by the Revenue by an average £171 per person. It also found that 36% of pensioners do not understand their tax obligations. Reasons are down to the complexity of older people age-related allowances and because the Revenue does not award the age-related allowances automatically without a need for a claim.

Pregnant women can claim a one-off tax-free payment

Reminder: Pregnant women can claim a one-off tax-free payment called “Health in Pregnancy Grant” if they are at least 25 weeks old. Expectant mums can spend the money anyway they like. The benefit does not affect tax credits or any other benefits. A claim form can be obtained from a doctor or midwife. The form will need to be sent to HMRC within a month or the grant may be missed.