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Prison term sends strong signal on tax evasion

Wed, 07 Jul 2004

Prison term sends strong signal on tax evasion - Inland Revenue

07 July 2004

A 21 month prison sentence imposed in Tauranga today sends a further strong message to the community that the courts take tax evasion seriously, Inland Revenue said today.

Bikram Singh was sentenced in the Tauranga District Court this morning to 21 months in prison after earlier pleading guilty to two charges of tax evasion.

Inland Revenue has been focusing on tax evasion in the fruit picking and contracting sectors, particularly in the Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay, Otago and Marlborough for some time.

"We have several other cases before the courts and around 60 investigations underway, in the Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Gisborne areas," said Kevin Moody, Hamilton Service Centre Manager.

"Each successful prosecution sends another strong message that if people are evading taxes, they will be caught. And they will face the consequences. This also signals to the wider community that the courts see tax evasion as a serious crime. "

"Inland Revenue's efforts to wipe out tax evasion have been welcomed by the honest players in the industry - orchardists, contractors and pickers. People who don't pay tax are able to undercut the legitimate operators, which penalises them unfairly for working within the law. People increasingly see tax fraud for what it is - stealing from the whole community," Mr Moody said.

Inland Revenue has been working in partnership with the horticultural industry for around two years, with the aim of increasing tax compliance. Through its 'Industry Partnership' initiative, Inland Revenue works alongside fruitgrowers and contractors to ensure that people understand their tax obligations and get any assistance they need to comply.

Bikram Singh, who was sentenced today, had earlier pleaded guilty to two charges of tax evasion. The court heard that Inland Revenue estimated GST of $30,639 and PAYE of $48,973.38 has not been accounted for, with a further $78, 971.45 Income Tax since 2 March 2004 also unaccounted for - an estimated total of $158,583.83.


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