A COUPLE have been jailed after carrying out tax fraud – using their own children's identities. The husband and wife duo, who used to live in East Staffordshire, tried to steal more than £63,000 in a tax fraud, submitting false VAT claims in the names of their own unsuspecting children. Stephen Martin, aged 62, and his wife Karen, aged 61, both now of no fixed address, fraudulently claimed £63,020 between November 2012 and September 2016 for three online businesses, an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation found.
A spokesman for HMRC said: “The pair submitted false VAT repayment claims for businesses they said were selling books and motorhomes. They have now each been sentenced to 18 months in prison.
“Some claims named the couple’s grown up children as partners in a firm that apparently sold DVD’s. Both children were completely unaware of the business and the fraudulent claims being lodged in their names.
“Karen Martin used her maiden name in correspondence with HMRC and said she didn’t know anybody called Stephen Martin, claiming that he must have been a previous tenant. In 2016 she called HMRC and posed as her daughter to ask about the delay in receiving the repayments.
“The couple, formerly of Uttoxeter, have since told HMRC investigators they are living in a caravan in North Wales.”
Nick Stone, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, added: “The honest majority of business owners pay what they owe and claim back the VAT they are entitled to.
“But this couple deliberately stole money needed to fund vital public services in the UK.
“This case should serve as a warning to others that claims like this are thoroughly investigated.
“If you know of anyone committing any type of tax fraud, you can report them to HMRC online or call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Stephen and Karen Martin admitted the frauds, spanning four years, at Stafford Crown Court on March 26 this year.
Stephen William Martin admitted cheating the public revenue by submitting false VAT repayment claims, totalling £38,317.41, between 23 November 2012 and 31 August 2015; while Karen Jane Martin admitted cheating the public revenue by submitting false VAT repayment claims, totalling £63,020.36, between 23 November 2012 and 30 September, 2016.
They were each jailed for 18 months last week on Thursday, July 4 at the same court.
HMRC paid out more than £53,000 of claims and withheld the remaining £10,000 while further checks were made.
Information about any type of tax fraud can be reported to HMRC online at www.gov.uk/report-an-unregistered-trader-or-business.
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