Mobile phone business owner jailed eight weeks for under-reporting GST

SINGAPORE - An owner of an online mobile phones and accessories business was jailed for eight weeks on Friday for under-reporting the Goods and Services Tax (GST) collected in his GST returns.

Avan Yong Yan Hwa, 28, was also ordered to pay a penalty of just over $109,000 - three times the amount of GST evaded.

He faced a total of nine charges for tax evasion by under-declaring a total of $53,534 in his returns between December 2011 and September 2012. He pleaded guilty to three charges involving a total GST amount of $36,368.

Investigation showed that Yong, proprietor of HomeGround Trading, had deliberately omitted to account for the GST collected from his customers in nine GST monthly returns for November 2011, and from January to August 2012.

He issued manual invoices to some customers instead of the usual computerised ones, with wilful intent to exclude these sales amounts and corresponding GST collected.

Yong has since stopped his online business.

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore said in a statement that it is a serious offence to understate output tax on sales or claim input tax on fictitious purchases.

Offenders face a penalty of up to three times the amount of tax undercharged , a fine of not more than $10,000, and/or a jail term of up to seven years.

Businesses or individuals are encouraged to immediately disclose any past mistakes.

A reward based on 15 per cent of the tax recovered, capped at $100,000, will be given to informants if the information and/or documents provided lead to a recovery of tax that would have otherwise been lost. All payments are at the discretion of the Comptroller of Income Tax.

The identities of informants are kept secret and confidential.