A Bay of Plenty woman has been jailed for two years and three months after being found guilty of tax evasion involving $167,000.
Lisa Lee Hilda Lamelangi, aged 37 from Katikati, was sentenced today in the Tauranga District Court after a jury earlier found her guilty on 31 charges of failing to deduct PAYE, 17 of evading the assessment of GST, and three of evading assessment of income tax.
She was also ordered to pay reparation of $10,000.
Inland Revenue Group Manager Assurance, Patrick Goggin, said the jail term reflects how seriously the courts view Lamelangi's type of offending.
"She deliberately set out to avoid her tax responsibilities and take advantage of other taxpayers who are doing the right thing by paying their fair share.
"Tax cheats put the responsibility on others to pay for the services that the community needs, such as schools, hospitals and roads, and that they expect to use themselves."
In August 1999, Lamelangi and her late husband registered a partnership for GST and income tax. The Matamoana partnership, which listed its business activity as agricultural services, registered for PAYE as an employer a month later.
Inland Revenue audited the partnership in 2000 and 2001, and provided the couple with education and guidance about their tax responsibilities. The couple ceased trading on 31 March 2001, leaving the partnership with tax debts of $24,110 which were written off under hardship provisions.
Between 2004 and 2007, Lamelangi issued invoices under the Matamoana partnership totalling $623,667. During those periods, the partnership was not registered for GST or income tax, or as an employer. It was estimated, GST, income tax and PAYE totalling $167,000 was evaded.
"When Inland Revenue spoke to Lamelangi she admitted the facts and said she'd used most of the unpaid tax to pay back a $60,000 loan and sent some back to families in Tonga," Mr Goggin said.