Salon owner’s VAT fraud is cut short

Brought to you by the Morpeth Herald.

Brought to you by the Morpeth Herald.

A Northumberland woman who evaded more than £120,000 in VAT at her Newcastle hair salon has been sentenced.

Michelle Hilling of Heugh, Stamfordham, was ordered by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to register U Salon, on Gosforth High Street, for VAT in 2008.

The 45-year-old dissolved the business less than a year later, but continued to trade as U Salon under a string of different legal entities until 2014 – none of which were registered for VAT.

A business must register for VAT with HMRC if their VAT taxable turnover is more than £83,000. VAT taxable turnover is the total value of everything a business sells that is not exempt from VAT.

By failing to register for VAT, Hilling avoided paying £121,445 between 2009 and 2014.

She admitted the fraudulent evasion of VAT at Newcastle Crown Court on May 23, 2016 and was sentenced to a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years, a 12-month supervision order and ordered to pay costs at the same court on Tuesday.

Cheryl Burr, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Michelle Hilling believed she was above the law. She was wrong and she’s paid the price for her greed and naivety.

“Those who avoid paying their taxes cheat the public purse and create an uneven playing field for their honest competitors.

“I urge anyone with information on this type of fraud to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 595000.”