A West Midlands builder who set up multiple fake companies to commit a £96,000 VAT fraud, and left some of his customers with unfinished work, has been sentencedto 16 months in jail.

Self-employed Carl Williams, 43, from Shirley, fraudulently claimed more than £52,000 in VAT repayments from 2007. He under-declared his earnings and over-declared his purchases in returns he submitted to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). When the returns were queried, he provided HMRC with fake paperwork to support his claims. Then, in 2011, he set up five bogus companies to claim a further £44,000 in VAT repayments.

HMRC officers who interviewed some of Williams’ customers were told of extremely poor workmanship and jobs left unfinished. In the worst case, a couple had paid more than £90,000 for house renovations, only for Williams to down tools after completing a third of the work. The property was left uninhabitable.

Colin Booker, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigations, HMRC, said:

“Carl Williams’ criminal activity has allowed him to rip off law-abiding taxpayers. The vast majority of us pay what is due, when it is due. HMRC will not tolerate tax fraud and we make it our priority to investigate those we suspect of operating above the law.”

Carl Williams had admitted six counts of VAT fraud at a hearing at Birmingham Crown Court in March.