Local fisherman jailed for evading £43,000 tax over nine years

A tax-dodging fisherman has been jailed for evading more than £43,000 in levies.

David McHale, 55, of King Brae Park, Newport-on-Tay, was sentenced to 14 months in prison after admitting failing to declare he was working as a share fisherman for nine years. As a result, he dodged £43,833 in income tax and national insurance contributions.

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David McHale

McHale previously admitted three charges of failing to declare his income to the HMRC when he appeared at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

He was jailed after he returned to the court for sentencing.

The total sum involved in the case was £13,089 in unpaid national insurance and £30,738 in avoided income tax.

McHale was busted after HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) launched an investigation after checking a fishing industry database and realising that he had not declared his earnings.

HMRC’s Share Fishermen Task Force found that McHale failed to declare he was working as a share fisherman over a period of nine years between 2005 and 2014.

Peterhead Harbour

The investigations showed that as a result, McHale — who was at that time working out of Peterhead — had dodged paying £43,833.76 of his profits in income tax and national insurance contributions.

Joe Hendry, assistant director of HMRC’s fraud investigation service, said that McHale had “undermined” those in the fishing industry who “pay the right taxes at the right time”.

He continued: “McHale chose not to declare he was working as a share fisherman and instead pocketed income tax and national insurance contributions, which should have been funding vital public services.

“The vast majority of people working in the Scottish fishing industry are law-abiding people who pay the right taxes at the right time but their livelihoods are undermined by those who do not play by the rules. If you know of anyone who is committing tax fraud you can report them by calling our fraud hotline on 0800 788 887.”

Sheriff Andrew Miller had originally called for social work reports to be carried out after McHale admitted the offences. He also asked for an assessment of McHale’s suitability for a restriction of liberty order.

Share fishermen aren’t employed under a contract of service and get all or part of their pay by sharing the profits or gross earnings of the fishing boat.

Being paid as a share fisherman makes the individual self employed and makes them responsible for declaring and paying their own income tax and national insurance.