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Suspended jail sentence for property owner over tax evasion

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A property owner who had pleaded guilty in the District Court to evading property tax was today (June 21) sentenced to four months' imprisonment, suspended for 24 months and fined a total of $879,218, representing 200% of the tax evaded.

The defendant, aged 76, pleaded guilty to six counts of wilfully and intentionally evading property tax by making false statements or entries in Tax Returns - Individuals for the six years of assessment 1993-94 to 1998-99, contrary to section 82(1)(b) of the Inland Revenue Ordinance.

The court heard that the defendant let his three solely owned properties, and received monthly rentals through his personal bank accounts. An investigation by the Inland Revenue Department revealed that the defendant had understated, in his tax returns for the six years of assessment, a total of $3,139,460 which represented about 79% of the actual rental income he received from the three properties. The resultant tax undercharged was $439,610 which represented about 64% of the revised tax payable.

A department spokesman reminded people that tax evasion was a criminal offence under the Inland Revenue Ordinance. Upon conviction, the maximum sentence for each charge is three years' imprisonment and a fine of $50,000, plus a further fine of three times the amount of tax evaded.

Ends/Thursday, June 21, 2007

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