Suspended jail sentence for ex-bank officer over tax evasion

     An ex-bank officer, convicted yesterday (February 16) at the Eastern Magistrates' Courts of evading tax, was sentenced today (February 17) to four months' imprisonment, suspended for 18 months and fined a total of $209,552.

     The defendant, aged 52, is a former assistant general manager of a bank. She pleaded guilty to 10 counts of wilfully intending to evade tax by omitting her rental income and making false statements in connection with claims for deduction of home loan interest in her tax returns for the years of assessment 1998-99, 2001-02, 2004-05, 2006-07 and 2007-08, contrary to section 82(1)(a) and section 82(1)(c) of the Inland Revenue Ordinance (IRO).  

     The court heard that during the material times, the defendant owned two properties in Happy Valley, both of which were rented out. In her tax returns for the years of assessment 1998-99, 2001-02, 2004-05, 2006-07 and 2007-08, the defendant only reported the rental income from one property and falsely declared that the other property (the property) was her residence. She also claimed deductions for home loan interest in respect of the property.
     An investigation by the Inland Revenue Department revealed that the defendant had never resided in the property but had rented it out throughout the period. For the above-mentioned five years of assessment, the defendant omitted rental income in the amount of $1,193,200 and made false claims of deduction for home loan interest totalling $419,631. The total amount of tax evaded was $126,377.

     A spokesman for the department reminded taxpayers to file correct tax returns. Tax evasion is a criminal offence. Omitting to report any taxable income in a tax return or making a false statement in a return in connection with a claim for any deduction or allowance is an offence under the IRO. The maximum penalty for each convicted offence is three years' imprisonment and a $50,000 fine, plus a further fine equivalent to three times the amount of tax evaded.  

Ends/Thursday, February 17, 2011
Issued at HKT 18:05