LONDON — Global fast food chain Wok to Walk faces embarrassment after a UK franchise was named and shamed by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as a deliberate tax defaulter.
Wok 2 Walk Ltd, which operates a franchise of the Dutch chain in the UK, was included on a list of “deliberate tax defaulters” published by HMRC last week.
Wok 2 Walk Ltd was found in a civil court to have evaded £61,539.00 worth of tax it should lawfully have paid. HMRC says Wok 2 Walk Ltd defaulted on payments between April 2012 and March 2015, and it has been charged £34,461.84 in penalties.
Wok 2 Walk Ltd is a franchise of Amsterdam-based Wok to Walk — which was not investigated — the pan-Asian takeaway that has restaurants around the world.
Cris Piera from Wok to Walk International, which owns the Wok to Walk band, said they had been “totally unaware” of the situation until Business Insider brought it to their attention.
Piera confirmed after speaking to Wok 2 Walk Ltd that the franchisee has been paying a monthly fee to HMRC since January and provided evidence of a direct debit payment made in June of £3,000. Piera said the franchise had “implemented changes and improvements on their accountancy.”
HMRC investigates and penalizes taxpayers who deliberately provide incorrect documents or otherwise intentionally take steps to illegally reduce the amount of tax they are obliged to pay. HMRC says it will only publish a case’s details if the defaulters fail to fully disclose their records during or before an investigation.
According to HMRC, franchisor Wok to Walk was not contacted as part of the investigation into Wok 2 Walk Ltd. It said discussing the case with the franchisor would have been inappropriate and a breach of taxpayer confidentiality.
“The case is already fixed and settled and soon to be closed by HMRC once the remaining monthly payments are completed,” Piera said.
The franchise joins a list of other businesses and individuals who have been subject to civil proceedings and fined for tax evasion.
HMRC was unable to discuss the case in any detail, but said what it publishes is strictly in line with legislation. It said it does not publish any additional details, such as summary judgments.