A Luton businessman, who provided bus services for vulnerable people, has been sentenced for a £1 million tax fraud.

James Taylor, who had a long-standing transport contract with a local authority, deliberately wound-up nine companies, putting them into liquidation, to avoid paying vast sums of PAYE and VAT due to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

When Taylor shut a company down, he diverted money owed to HMRC into his personal bank accounts before starting up a new one. The local authority was totally unaware it had been dealing with more than one company, as he used the same trading name, Taylors Transport Services, throughout the scam.

Paul Barton, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“Taylor believed he was being clever by pocketing the £1 million rather than paying it over to fund the UK’s vital public services. But he couldn’t have been more wrong.

“His scam gave him an unfair advantage over his honest competitors and he is paying the price with a prison sentence. We will now look to strip him of the proceeds of his criminal activity. So his affluent lifestyle of nice cars, houses and holidays, which he funded through this fraud, is well and truly over.

“Anyone with information of those committing tax fraud can contact our 24-hour hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

The 68-year-old used the stolen money to help fund a holiday home in Devon, rent sports cars including a Bentley Continental GT and quickly paid off a big mortgage. However, it all unravelled in 2013 when HMRC investigators unearthed the full extent of his fraud.

Taylor pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of VAT and Income Tax at an earlier hearing and was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment at Luton Crown Court on 5 August 2016.

Confiscation proceedings to recoup the proceeds of his crime will follow.