Northern Ireland news

Construction worker handed suspended 12 month prison sentence after tax fraud worth more than £239,000

North Belfast construction worker handed 12 month prison sentence - suspended for three years - after pleading guilty to tax fraud worth more than £239,000
Marie Louise McConville

A north Belfast construction worker has been handed a 12 month prison sentence - suspended for three years - after pleading guilty to tax fraud worth more than £239,000.

Gary Burns, from the New Lodge Road, was found to have operated as a building contractor supplying undeclared construction workers to building sites.

The 35-year-old invoiced contractors to make it look like he was carrying out the work himself, receiving gross payments into his bank account which he then used to pay an undeclared workforce.

The workers were paid cash in hand without deductions for Income Tax or National Insurance Contributions.

Revenue and Customs officers searched the north Belfast man's address on July 28, 2016 and he later attended a voluntary interview on August 12 that year.

On May 24 this year, Burns pleaded guilty to fraudulent evasion of VAT and failing to pay income tax at Belfast Crown Court.

On Tuesday, he was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for three years, at Belfast Crown Court.

Steve Tracey, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: "Burns gave dishonest sub-contractors an unfair advantage over other honest competitors and failed to pay the tax liabilities due.

"He knowingly deprived public services of vital funding and now has a criminal record for tax fraud."

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