A tax cheat who admitted running a three-year VAT scam worth more than £100,000 in Blackpool has been jailed.
Newsagent Maureen Carpenter was given an 18-month sentence after pleading guilty fraud at Preston Crown Court.
The 51-year-old, of Leamington Road, Blackpool, was found out after an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation revealed she was only declaring her earnings up to 5pm – even though the Booze Booze Booze store she ran stayed open until 11pm.
Officers searched the premises, on Central Drive, and found two handwritten cashbooks, with takings figures entered under two separate columns labelled ‘day’ and ‘night’.
The court was told she did this to hide the total sales and avoid paying some of the VAT she owed.
Carpenter made a total of £107,000 over a three-year period up to June 2013 by charging customers VAT but pocketing the cash herself.
An HMRC spokesperson said: “Carpenter chose to hide her sales to try and cheat her tax obligations.
“Now she’s paying the price in prison.
“Criminals like Carpenter create an uneven playing field for the honest majority.
“That’s something we will not tolerate.”
Carpenter admitted fraudulently avoiding paying VAT at an earlier hearing at Preston Crown Court back in September.
She returned to the same court on Monday where she was given an 18-month jail sentence.
A Proceeds of Crime hearing has been scheduled to take place on April 5 as part of HMRC’s efforts to recover some of the money Carpenter fraudulently withheld from the taxman over the three-year period.