Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Taxing Time Gave Me Heart Attack

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Taxing Time Gave Me Heart Attack

Article excerpt

Byline: By Sara Wallis

A sick grandfather prosecuted by taxmen has been forced to stand trial in his own living room.

Bill Hood, 61, says the stress of his two-and-a-half-year battle with the Inland Revenue caused him to suffer a heart attack which has left him housebound.

The former design engineer is so ill that, in an unprecedented move, the hearing took place in his Gateshead home.

Special Commissioners of Income Tax, equivalent to High Court judges, travelled from London to hear the case.

Mr Hood was forced to rearrange his living room complete with witness chair and public seating.

He firmly believes the tax wrangle, a dispute over if he owes tax as an employee or employer, triggered his ill health.

If he loses the case, he could face a pounds 50,000 tax bill and he could also lose his home.

Today Mr Hood, of Grange Walk, Whickham, said: "It all started in August, 2001, when I came back from a family holiday and was told by the Durham tax office that they wanted to do a routine check.

"I started my own business in 1996, UseTech Limited, which contracts design work on oil rigs, and they were questioning if I was an employer or an employee.

"They are saying I owe thousands of pounds as I had evaded tax, but that is not true.

"It has been unbelievable because it makes you extremely paranoid and you are wondering what you have done wrong.

"It is like somebody is telling you that you are a fraud. I haven't slept properly since it started."

Mr Hood who lives with his wife Anne, 59, was previously very fit and ran 50 miles a week including mini marathons, but became four stone overweight following his heart attack.

Now he suffers from a heart condition as well as hypoglycaemia, asthma and arthritis and has been unable to work since June last year, when he closed his business. …

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