Tattoo artist jailed for "cooking the books" in returns to tax man (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Darlington Skin Deep tattoo artist jailed for "cooking the books" in returns to tax man
A TATTOO artist who paid a shortfall of £260,922 in tax over 11 years was today jailed for 18 months.
Eric Ian Mitchenson kept hand-written records of takings at Skin Deep Tattoo Parlour, in Darlington, but they did not equate with those he declared to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
The disparity in figures came to light, however, when police visited the parlour, in High Northgate, searching for a deactivated firearm, belonging to “an associate”, in June 2011.
Durham Crown Court heard that during the search, in which a converted air rifle was recovered, officers came across hand-written records kept by Mitchenson, with a note on top saying: “Do not show whole sections to Revenue, or to authorities or to Government bodies.
“Make sure the accountant sees this.”
David Scutt, prosecuting, said examination of the records revealed that while running Skin Deep as sole trader, and as a director after it was incorporated as Skin Deep Tattoo Studio, Darlington Ltd, in 2002, Mitchenson repeatedly under-stated the business takings.
JAILED: Eric Mitchenson, of Skin Deep
When interviewed he admitted making false returns to the treasury, consistently under declaring takings.
He said he had set prices for most “off the wall” tattoos and customers always paid in cash.
Mitchenson said the note was intended as an instruction to his wife in the event of his death.
Mr Scutt said at the conclusion of the interview, Mitchenson said: “I’ve dodged my tax. I want to sort it out now.
“If I have to sell my assets, that’s what I’ll have to do.”
Mitchenson, 61, of North Lodge, Chester-le-Street, admitted four counts of making a false statement to prejudice or defraud HMRC, covering Income Tax, National Insurance, VAT and Corporation Tax shortfalls over a period from January 1999 to January 2011.
Christopher Knox, mitigating, described Mitchenson, a grandfather, who is of previous good character, as a hard-working man, held in high regard in the business community, who supports his wife and family.
“All this started as he was involved in property development business that went wrong.
“It took many years of litigation, and he got some recompense, but he was left significantly short of his true losses even though he won his case.
“He then set about trying to restore his family finances.”
Jailing him, Judge Simon Hickey told Mitchenson: “It’s a significant amount of money and over a significant number of years by which you defrauded the revenue.”
He ordered Mitchenson to repay the £260,922 within six months or face up to a further three years in prison.
The court heard that Mitchenson’s only means of repaying the outstanding amount is from the sale of his house, which is on the market.
Speaking after the hearing, HMRC assistant director of investigation, Paul Rooney, said: “It is not acceptable for someone to simply decide that they want to pay less tax and manipulate their business records to reflect what they think they should be paying.
“As a result of his actions, Michenson has found himself the focus of a criminal investigation which has lead to prosecution.
“This result will send out a clear message to others that ‘cooking the books’ is simply not an option.”
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