Legal advisor from Leeds hid income in bid to dodge £82,000 tax bill

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A legal adviser from Leeds has received a suspended prison sentence after hiding his income in order to avoid paying more than £82,000 in tax.

Self-employed Ian Austin, 65, of Bardsey, provided legal advice to businesses but failed to tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) about his earnings between 2004 and 2015.

The 11-year fraud was uncovered after HMRC investigators found he had worked for a solicitors’ firm and received payments totalling £29,000 between 2012 and 2014.

When he was arrested in August 2016, officers seized Austin’s laptop and five USB memory sticks which contained payment documents totalling more than £300,000 between 2010 and 2015.

Austin, who worked in the legal profession for more than 20 years, claimed he paid a Bradford accountant £500 to look after his tax affairs but could not explain why his tax returns had not been submitted.
After later admitting income tax fraud, he was sentenced at Leeds Crown Court to 23 months in prison, suspended for two years.

Judge Peter Collier QC ordered that he must also complete 160 hours unpaid work.

Kath Doyle, assistant director of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service, said: “This was a deliberate and sustained attack on the tax system. Austin was in a position of trust giving legal advice to his customers whilst breaking the law himself.

“Tax fraud takes money away from our public services and we are determined to ensure these criminals like Austin are caught.”

Anyone with information on tax fraud can call HMRC's hotline on 0800 788 887.