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Scots grocer on tax dodge list

A SCOTTISH grocer has been named and shamed by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) as one the UK's biggest tax defaulters.

Rafique Maroof Raja, of Kirkcaldy, Fife, was included on a list of nine individuals or companies who owed the taxman more than £25,000.

The list – which was published for the first time yesterday – revealed the names of "deliberate defaulters" who were uncovered during investigations by HMRC into affairs conducted after April 2010.

According to officials, Mr Raja – who ran the general store known as The Clock Shop – failed to pay £27,889 in taxes between March 2010 and June 2011.

His name was included with eight others from England who failed to pay sums ranging from £25,000 to almost £300,000.

Legislation naming and shaming tax defaulters was announced by Labour in 2009, but has only now come into force. To appear on the list a person must have made a deliberate attempt to avoid paying tax and failed to repay the money promptly when challenged by HMRC.

However, HMRC said those who are named may have already paid back the money as it covers a specific period of time, which may have now passed.

A spokesman for the agency said: "Publication is intended to influence the behaviour of the minority of taxpayers who may be tempted to understate their tax liability or not tell HMRC that they are liable to tax.

"The initiative is intended to influence behaviour by reinforcing the compliance effect of penalties and showing that HMRC is serious about tackling non-compliance by presenting a potential downside to those thinking of deliberately defaulting on their obligations.

"It is also intended to encourage full disclosure because people who have deliberately defaulted can avoid having their details published."

Other individuals named on the list included David Alan Jay, of Essex, who works in property maintenance; Joseph Tyrrell, a hairdresser from Liverpool; and Brian Clifford Tattersall, a coach operator from Bolton.

Companies mentioned included Southport Leisure, a licensed bar and club on Coronation Walk, Southport; The Trade Beverage Company which bought and sold wine in Mobberley, Cheshire; S Stewart, a pipework specialist from Bishops Court, Liverpool; Gatemain Contractors, a building company, on Holly Road, Rochester, Kent; and Menemis, a knitwear manufacturer trading as Unlimited Knits, on Byron Industrial Estate, Nottingham.

When added together, the tax owed amounted to less than £1million.

The defaulters received fines ranging from a few thousand pounds to £291,830, imposed on The Trade Beverage Company.

Treasury Minister David Gauke said: "HMRC is dedicated to clamping down on the small minority of people who break the law, and finding and taking action against tax cheats who evade their responsibilities.

"The publication of these names sends a clear signal that cheating on tax is wrong and reassures people who pay their taxes – the vast majority – that there are consequences for those who refuse to tell HMRC about their full liability.

"It also encourages defaulters to make a full and prompt disclosure and co-operate with HMRC to avoid being named."

Mr Raja could not be contacted for comment last night.

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