Salesmen prosecuted for tax evasion

Two double glazing salesmen from West Yorkshire have been sentenced after hiding earnings of more than half a million pounds from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Self-employed Wesley Roetteis, 33, and Ashfaq Hussain, 40, signed agreements with Bradford based Safestyle UK, stating they would take care of their own tax affairs. Instead, the pair failed to register as self-employed, submit any tax returns or pay tax and National Insurance contributions.

Jo Tyler, assistant director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said: “It was made very clear to both of these men that it was entirely up to them to ensure they were properly registered to pay tax. Unfortunately for them, they have found out the hard way that pleading ignorance is simply not an excuse.

“HMRC takes this type of evasion very seriously, and we will always look to prosecute those who are suspected of trying to hide their income from us. It’s the British taxpayer who misses out the most – tax that Roetteis and Hussain should have paid would have helped fund public services.”

Roetteis, of Bradford, pocketed a total of £ £447,447 during a successful career with the firm that saw him earn an average of more than £60,000 a year between 2007 and 2014.

But his lucrative time under HMRC’s radar was brought to an end by a taskforce set up to examine the tax affairs of self-employed salespeople in the double glazing industry. Investigations into Roetteis’ earnings established that he had avoided paying £128,330 in Income Tax and National Insurance.

During interview, Roetteis admitted he had never paid any tax in his life. He told HMRC that it wasn’t until 2011 – four years into his self-employment – that it dawned on him that he was supposed to pay his own tax. Roetteis said it was then that his “world fell apart”.

He pleaded guilty to three counts of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of Income Tax at Bradford Crown Court on 19 February 2015. He was sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work by His Honour Judge Jameson at Leeds Crown Court today, 20 May 2015.

Meanwhile, Ashfaq Hussain, of Bradford, had also been working as a self-employed salesman for Safestyle UK between 2007 and 2012, earning £121,296 over five years. But, like Roetteis, he failed to register as self-employed or submit tax returns.

HMRC investigators found that Hussain had an additional job as an administration assistant and that his income was topped up with Tax Credit payments of £48,934 between 2007 and 2012 – he would have only been entitled to around £11,000 if he had declared his self-employed income.

Hussain was prosecuted separately and pleaded guilty to five counts of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of Income Tax and to five counts of fraudulently obtaining benefit at Bradford Magistrates’ Court on 17 April 2015. He was sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work by His Honour Judge Jameson at Leeds Crown Court today, 20 May 2015.