Former Hurstpierpoint woman jailed after ‘lie’ over tax

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A former Hurstpierpoint woman has been jailed for two years and eight months after she ‘lied’ to avoid paying inheritance tax, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said this week.

Theresa Bunn, 56, formerly of Cuckfield Road, Hurstpierpoint, sought to avoid paying £500,000 inheritance tax on her wealthy aunt’s estate, according to a statement by HMRC.

Theresa Bunn had the benefit of large amounts of cash and lied purely to avoid paying tax.

Stuart Taylor, HMRC

A spokesman for HMRC said: “Following the death of her aunt in 2010, Bunn told HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) that the estate was worth around £285,000, which is below the threshold for paying inheritance tax.

“However, an HMRC investigation later revealed the estate was worth more than £1.5 million.”

Stuart Taylor, Assistant Director, HMRC, said: “Theresa Bunn had the benefit of large amounts of cash and lied purely to avoid paying tax.

“The vast majority of us pay what is due, when it is due, but HMRC will not tolerate tax fraud and will investigate those we suspect of operating outside the law.”

Bunn’s finances became the subject of an HMRC investigation after officers discovered she had been ‘financially supporting a friend and using her friend’s bank accounts to hide money and evidence of her spending from her family’.

Bunn confessed she failed to declare ‘substantial cash gifts’ from her aunt while she was alive and also ‘lied about the true value of the estate she had inherited to avoid paying tax’.

HMRC said Bunn admitted the estate was actually worth around £1.5 million, which meant she had avoided an inheritance tax bill of around £500,000.

Bunn, who now lives in Kilgavan, County Kerry, Republic of Ireland, was charged with cheating the public revenue contrary to Common Law on April 3, 2014, and admitted the offence on March 9, 2015.

She was sentenced to two years and 8 months in jail on Monday,March 10, at Chichester Crown Court.