An Auckland café owner whose offending caused a loss of at least $421k to the New Zealand taxpayer has been sentenced to prison for tax evasion.

A statement released by the IRD this afternoon outlined how Elizabeth Tangikau, a mother-of-six, ran a café at the NZ Post centre in Highbrook which was also open to the public.

Over a period of six years, Tangikau evaded income tax and GST obligations by filing 75 false tax returns, the statement said.

These significantly understated her business income and claimed excessive expenditure. By doing so, she was able to receive at least $42,000 in family assistance payments she was not entitled to.

She also misappropriated payroll taxes — keeping the money deducted from employees rather than paying it to Inland Revenue (IRD).

IRD tried to help Tangikau on a “number of occasions”, ensuring the necessary resources to comply with her obligations were available and reminding her of the “serious” consequences of non-compliance.

However, the IRD said in its statement that Tangikau persisted with the offending and did not respond to subsequent attempts by the department to assist her in regularising her tax affairs.

In a letter to the court, Tangikau expressed remorse for her actions and said she understood her behaviour had a “significant impact’ on every New Zealander.

The judge noted the seriousness and long duration of the offending as well as the large amount of money involved in their decision.

It was also noted there was a lack of attempt to make amends.

Tangikau was sentenced at the Auckland District Court on March 26 to two years and three months imprisonment.