E-trader jailed over VAT fraud

An online trader has been jailed for attempting to evade more than £420,000 of VAT, ahead of the launch of an HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) campaign targeting people who use e-marketplaces to buy and sell goods and who fail to pay tax owed.

Gregory Allnutt, aged 40, from south-east London, was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment at Southwark Crown Court on 29 November after an investigation by HMRC. He had pleaded guilty to 12 counts of fraud.

Allnutt’s home was raided by HMRC officers in June 2011. Evidence uncovered proved that from 1 September 2007, he used a VAT registration number to obtain zero rated goods from suppliers within the EU and then sold them on through another online company, failing to declare and pay the tax to HMRC.

Mhairi Urquhart, senior lawyer in the Crown Prosecution Service’s Central Fraud Group, said: “Gregory Allnutt knew he was liable to pay VAT when he set up as a retailer of nutritional products.

“He soon worked out that he could make a lot more money selling electrical goods through eBay, and despite knowing that he was still liable to pay VAT when he did this, he instead pocketed £429,337 that was due to HMRC.

In early 2012, HMRC will be launching a campaign targeting people using e-marketplaces to buy and sell goods as a trade or business and who fail to pay the tax owed and has already begun gathering information needed to identify individuals and companies involved in this type of trade.

LINK: HMRC guidance on selling online

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