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Auckland restaurateur gets 3 years’ jail for evading almost $800,000 in tax

An Auckland restaurateur has been sentenced to three years and two months in jail after evading $787,996 in tax.

Zai Jian Liang ran the Tasty Zone Restaurant in East Tamaki and filed 113 incorrect tax returns between 2009 and 2015.

An Inland Revenue investigation revealed he and his wife Guan Hong Liang avoided paying GST by failing to declare over $1 million in cash sales and almost $500,000 in PAYE.

Their rort extended to further ripping off taxpayers by fraudulently claiming $30,000 in Working for Families tax credits.

Investigations and Advice Group Manager Tony Morris said the Liangs showed a complete disregard toward their tax obligations.

“This is right up there with the most blatant cases we have seen,” Mr Morris said.

“This couple have actively hidden significant amounts of cash sales and employee wages from Tasty Zone’s tax returns.

“We found a litany of irregularities when going through their bank accounts, proving they were using undeclared cash from the restaurant to pay for everyday expenses as well as overseas trips.”

The couple kept their accountant in the dark about their shady business practices and failed to share the notebooks they kept to record their employees’ wages.

The little red notebook was spotted during an Inland Revenue search of their home and restaurant. When the contents were compared to the records in their official PAYE returns, it was obvious there was a major discrepancy between the employees’ declared pay and their actual earnings.

Mrs Liang was convicted and discharged in the Manukau District Court on lesser knowledge offences.

Since the Liangs are in the process of being bankrupted, no reparation order was made.

“New Zealanders need to know that we will track down people like the Liangs and hold them to account. We won’t let them get away with ripping off honest, law-abiding taxpayers.”