Tax doesn’t have to be taxing…
Perhaps not if you’ve got Paul Retout doing your accounts. The former chartered accountant, who was imprisoned for a £60,000 fraud, is now helping inmates to claim tax rebates of £1,000 on average.
How is that possible?
Mr Retout, from Denbighshire, Wales, was jailed in October 2012 for submitting false invoices to his own firm, Quadrangle Group, where he was employed as financial controller. He was sent to HMP Wandsworth in south London, where he began running ‘tax seminars’ for his fellow inmates. He claims that prisoners who were jailed before reaching the annual £9,440 personal tax threshold, but who paid tax on earnings before being incarcerated, are likely to be owed money.
In the first session, Mr Retout discovered that about half of the 20 attendees were due tax rebates. He soon realised that he soon realised that many more prisoners at the 1,284-capacity jail were owed rebates from the taxman. When he was transferred to he was to HMP Brixton, also in south London, he saw a similar situation.
And now it’s payback time?
Writing in Inside Time, the national monthly newspaper for prisoners, the 53-year-old, who was released in March, said: “What became clear was that taxation was a topic that prisoners wanted further information on but there was very little support, if any to help them.”
Is Mr Retout the man for the job?
“Having spent my life helping high net worth people I had an epiphany in prison trying to help prisoners who needed guidance about tax codes and taxation,” he said. “If they got a tax rebate it could help them with accommodation, getting a job and buying food when they are released.” He added: “The average refund that I calculated while I was in prison was approximately £1,000.” It is thought that up to 200 prisoners have applied for tax rebates thanks to his advice.
What next for the money-saving expert?
Mr Retout said that he was now trying to help ex-offenders manage their tax affairs. “When you come out of prison it is pretty daunting and difficult, particularly if you have no money behind you. We should be helping these people reintegrate into society. They should be provided with some tax education.”