Lawyer jailed four weeks for income tax evasion, ordered to pay $118k penalty

A lawyer was sentenced to four weeks' jail and a $118,000 penalty for evading nearly $40,000 in income tax.
A lawyer was sentenced to four weeks' jail and a $118,000 penalty for evading nearly $40,000 in income tax.PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A lawyer was sentenced to four weeks' jail and ordered to pay a penalty of more than $118,000 on Wednesday for evading nearly $40,000 in income tax.

Ong Cheong Wei, 51, the former sole proprietor of law firm Ong Cheong Wei & Co, pleaded guilty to two charges of tax evasion. Two other charges of making false entries in his income tax returns were taken into consideration.

Investigations by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) revealed that Ong filed his tax returns for 2007 and 2008 based on an estimated net monthly income of about $4,000, despite knowing that his actual income exceeded the estimated amount. He was later found to have omitted income amounting to a total of $306,305.

Ong also failed to prepare or maintain a general ledger or accounts for the law firm.

Iras said it takes a serious view of non-compliance and tax evasion.

"There will be severe penalties for those who wilfully evade tax," it said in a statement. "Taxpayers are also ultimately responsible for the information declared in their income tax returns and the authority will not hesitate to bring offenders to court."

Iras also encouraged businesses or individuals to disclose any past tax mistakes immediately, adding that it will treat such disclosures as mitigating factors when considering action to be taken.

Ong could have been jailed for up to three years, fined up to $10,000, or both. He will also be liable to pay a penalty of up to three times the amount of tax evaded.