A former commercial diver has been jailed after he falsely claimed more than $1 million in GST refunds.

Tony Edward Cree was sentenced to three years in prison today in the Christchurch District Court after pleading guilty to one representative charge of dishonestly and without claim of right using a document to obtain a pecuniary advantage.

Inland Revenue spokesperson Tony Morris said Cree, via his company Civil and Marine Group Limited, claimed $1,104,252.61 in GST refunds that he wasn't entitled to.

"Cree lied, repeatedly. He gave us false documents and information to try to validate the false GST returns he filed," Morris said.

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"He claimed GST refunds between December 2009 and January 2015 when his, and his company's, bank accounts showed no expenses for business activity in this period."

Morris labelled Cree's offending "premeditated" and "deliberate", saying he showed "complete disregard towards his and his company's tax obligations."

"At one point he claimed his partner was sick and had passed away which made it difficult for him to comply with information requests made by IR. This turned out to be false as well," Morris said.

Morris said the general public is the victim of Cree's offending having been deprived of a significant sum of money, which could have been put towards funding essential public services.

"Honest New Zealanders can be assured that tax cheats won't get away with stealing money that would normally go towards funding vital services such as hospitals, schools and national parks."