As the hard winter months approach the fishing community in Northern Ireland, many will be checking their finances to ensure they are making their proper tax and NIC payments.
But one fisherman from Ardglass, who failed to pay more than £24,000 in tax and National Insurance contributions due on self-employed earnings, has been sentenced after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Investigations revealed that he had failed to declare earnings of more than £155,000 – profits he had made as a share fisherman.
The tax records of a fishing-boat owner showed that the fisherman had been employed as a crew member and his pay as a share fisherman had been recorded in the financial accounts. However, he failed to declare this income to HMRC or submit any Self-Assessment tax returns, evading £24,155.86 Income Tax and National Insurance Contributions.
Steve Tracey, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “He chose not to declare his income or pay tax and thought he could pocket the money, which should have been funding vital public services.
“Most people pay the tax they owe, when they owe it, but a small minority think they are above the law. If you know of anyone who is committing tax fraud you can report them by calling our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
The fisherman was sentenced to one year in prison, suspended for one year, when he appeared at Antrim Crown Court on Friday 20 October 2017. He was also ordered to pay a £3,000 compensation order and was given 28 days to set up a payment plan to return the tax he evaded. The judge advised that failure to set up the payment plan would lead to a review of the sentence.