A fish and chip shop owner has been told to pay £200,000 in 14 days or serve three years in jail after lying about the income from the business for six years.

Canterbury Crown Court has ordered Russell Fox to pay the confiscation order after failing to pay £175,000 in tax and national insurance.

Investigators from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) found that Fox consistently provided his accountant with rewritten weekly takings sheets that were lower than those given by his manager. It was also discovered that till rolls were missing and that cash deducted from the true takings spreadsheets ranged from £365 to £5,250 per week.

As well as failing to pay income tax of more than £91,000 and NI contributions of over £15,000 between 2005 and 2011, Fox fiddled the books on his VAT returns, resulting in an underpayment of nearly £68,500.

On top of the confiscation order, he was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, as well as 250 hours of community service to undertake and a three month curfew that he must abide by.

Martin Brown, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said:

“Russell Fox thought he could dupe our officers by ‘losing’ or destroying till receipts that would have shown the true turnover of the business. He failed to pay income tax and national insurance contributions, and lied about his business expenditure in order to underpay his VAT. HMRC will not hesitate to pursue those who seek to lie and cheat their way to an unfair tax advantage over those who abide by the law.”