A playground fitter from Sompting has been ordered to pay more than £6,600 for failing to pay a security bond owing to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
In a statement, a HMRC spokesperson said Jonathan Foster, 51, of Mountview Road, pleaded guilty at Worthing Magistrates Court on February 20 to not paying a security bond of £22,050.
Mr Foster, a director of Foster Landscapes Ltd, a company which installed playground areas, was ordered to pay £6,634.69, plus costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £20, the statement added.
It read: “Based on his previous trading history, he was sent a ‘Notice of Requirement’ to protect the public purse against any future tax defaults.
“But he failed to pay the bond and continued to trade, contravening the Value Added Tax Act 1994.
“Foster pleaded guilty at Worthing Magistrates Court on 20 February 2018. He was given a conditional discharge for 12 months. The company was given no separate penalty.”
Richard Wilkinson, assistant director of the fraud investigation service at HMRC, said: “Jonathan Foster was wrong to think he could get away with trading without following the rules.
“Anyone who is VAT registered, but has a history of failing to meet their tax obligations, may be required to pay a security bond as a precautionary measure to protect future tax revenue.
“It is a criminal offence if the bond is not paid, and only right that we tackle those businesses who commit this type of crime.”
In a letter sent to the Herald on Monday, Mr Foster said: “I have been ordered to pay the sum of £6634.69 for a unpaid vat quarter dating from 2017.
“This was not paid was due to an ongoing battle I been having with the inland revenue for the past five years over their failure to reallocate and give back some £82,000 of overpayments made under the cis tax system, causing me much frustration and stress, leading to my decision not to pay the vat quarter until this matter had been resolved.
“The bond asked for was due to me not paying the quarter for which I felt victimised, as they had this significant amount of money already in their accounts and in my eyes I had not committed any fraud.
“This was mentioned and accepted in court by the magistrates, hence why I wasn’t fined and only ordered to pay the vat quarter.
“I have been having ongoing discussions about this with the inland revenue as to their justification of finding the money for this bond and on the court charge the inland revenue have not asked for this bond to be put in place now.
“In fact, two officers visited me to discuss the matter before proceedings were instigated and advised me that I did not have to pay the bond if I was to go onto monthly vat returns, to which I agreed.
“I received no further correspondence from them after making numerous attempts to contact them and get a decision all of which is no surprise given their track record.
“The total incompetence of the the inland revenue and their total lack of being able to sort out reallocations of monies have led me to be disillusioned and extremely untrusting of this government based body.
“It would seen the left arm doesn’t know what the right arm is doing and I have been made aware that I’m not the only small company to suffer and potentially be put out of business by their actions.”