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Byron Shire
February 27, 2021

Tax crack-down results in hefty fines for some

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A Murwillumbah mother of three and business partner has been fined $28000 after pleading guilty to not lodging six years worth of business activity statements and tax returns.

Wendy Joy Dawes appeared in Lismore Local Court on Tuesday facing 28 counts of refusing/failing to furnish/return information when required.

The 57 year-old was represented by barrister Gemunu Kumarasinhe.

The charges relate to failing to lodge a tax return for six years from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2014.

During that period, Mrs Dawes also failed to complete 22 business activity statements, used to calculate goods and services tax GST from October 1, 2009 to March 31, 2015.

‘Twenty two offences contrary to section 8C(1)(a) of the Taxation Administration Act of 1953 for failing when as required pursuant to taxation law to give a document, namely a GST return in the approved form to the commissioner of taxation,’ court documents stated.

At Mrs Dawes’ last court appearance earlier this year, the court heard she entered pleas of guilty to all charges and the facts about the case and her criminal record were tendered.

Mrs Dawes owed $40,538 to the Taxation Commissioner in GST and an uncalculated sum in tax, court documents showed.

‘It’s a large amount of money that is owing,’ Magistrate David Heilpern said.

‘I’m instructed that figure included interest and administration charges,’ Mr Kumarasinhe said.

He said Mrs Dawes name was previously on his wall and floor tiling business RA and WJ Dawes Pty Ltd.

‘He has not put his tax returns in and she is now before the court,’ Mr Kumarasinhe said.

‘She has since taken her name off the business.’

Mrs Dawes had been prosecuted over similar offences in 2006.

‘There was a conviction and fine of $11,750 for similar offences in 2006,’ Mr Heilpern said.

Court documents revealed RA and WJ Dawes Pty Ltd had a current debt of $95,185.54 with the Australian Taxation Department.

Mr Kumarasinhe said Mrs Dawes had made arrangements to pay the outstanding GST.

He said she had been saving money from her job at Murwillumbah hospital where she worked three days a week.

‘There is $41,000 with the accountant waiting to be paid,’ Mr Kumarasinhe said.

The maximum penalty for the offences is a fine, but Mr Kumarasinhe asked for a conviction to be recorded against Mrs Dawes but no monetary penalty to apply.

‘The difficulty for your client is that she had he previous matter in 2006,’ Mr Heilpern said.

Mr Heilpern convicted Mrs Dawes and ordered her to pay $22,000 in fines over the GST charges and $6000 in fines for failing to lodge tax returns.

A Mullumbimby entrepreneur whose aim was to ensure the homeless had somewhere to live was fined this week for not lodging six years of tax returns.

Adam Spinner appeared in Lismore Local Court on Tuesday facing six counts of refusing/failing to furnish/return information when required.

The charges related to the lodgement of tax returns by Mr Spinner for his business Orbital Visions Pty Ltd over a six year period from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2015.

Mr Spinner represented himself after pleading guilty to the charges.

‘I am the sole director of the company,your honour,’ Mr Spinner said.

He then tendered an affidavit to the court detailing why he hadn’t lodged the tax returns due to the ‘mitigating circumstances’ that he owed no tax due to earning a nominal income.

‘According to my records there was a plea of guilty entered on the 28th of February,’ Magistrate David Heilpern said.

‘As a one man micro enterprise providing affordable housing for the homeless I have failed,’ Mr Spinner said.

‘I was driven as a one man micro enterprise to find a solution to the problem (of affordable housing for the homeless).’

Court documents revealed Mr Spiner actually had a credit of $3009.66 with the Australian Taxation Office.

Mr Heilpern said he could see Mr Spinner had the best intentions for Orbital Visions.

‘Initially you had an accountant then you just failed to file returns,’ he said.

‘Your motivation was charitable, rather than any effort to make squillions of dollars out of this.’

He said Mr Spinner had no prior criminal convictions and entered a guilty plea at the first available opportunity.

‘I’m going to impose a reasonably nominal fine of $1000,’ Mr Heilpern said.

$32,500 fine for Toonumbar business

A Toonumbar business has been fined $32,500 for failing to lodge three years of tax returns after being ordered to do so by a court.

On February 23 at Lismore Local Court a representative of Toonumbar Waters Retreat appeared in person when the company was convicted of three offences and fined $1000 for failing to furnish tax returns.

Between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2014 the Commissioner of Taxation did not receive tax returns for Toonumbar Waters.

Following the conviction an order was made by the court under subsection 8G(1 of the Taxation Assessment Act for Toonumbar Waters Retreat to lodge the outstanding tax returns.

Failure to do so would result in further strict penalties.

Court documents revealed Toonumbar Waters Retreat owed $2281.50 in tax for 2012, $7078.20 for 2013, and $13,954.10 for 2014.

This came to a total tax bill of $23,913.80.

Toonumbar Waters Retreat also have a current debt of $54,797.25 with the Australian Taxation Office, court documents stated.

In 2015, Toonumbar Waters Retreat reported a total income of $107,110, with a taxable income of $53,122, documents stated.

On Tuesday, when the court discovered there were no representatives for Toonumbar Waters Retreat present, Magistrate David Heilpern decided to proceed with sentencing.

‘I intend to proceed in their absence under section 196,’ Mr Heilpern said.

Section 196 of the Criminal Procedure Act of 1986 outlines the procedure a court can legally follow if an accused party isn’t present at court.

The maximum penalty Toonumbar Waters Retreat faced was a $75,000 fine, the court heard, with penalties being greater for companies than individuals.

‘This is a case where a company has been fined an an order has been made and the company has failed to comply with the order,’ Mr Heilpern said.

‘The company is convicted.’

Mr Heilpern fined Toonumbar Waters Retreat $32,500.

Financial adviser to be sentenced

A Cumbalum financial advisor will be sentenced in August after changing his plea to four charges relating to ca court order to lodge four years of tax returns.

Kevin Trees represented himself at Lismore Local Court on Tuesday when facing four counts of refusing/ failing to comply with a court order under subsection 8G(1) of the Income Tax Assessment Act.

Court documents revealed Mr Trees, who trades as KJ Trees Pty Ltd, failed to lodge tax returns for four years between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2014.

A company search of K Trees Pty Ltd lists Mr Trees’ business name as Smart Life Financial Services.

The court heard Mr Trees was convicted on July 26, 2016, for failing to comply with section 162 of the Income Tax Assessment Act by failing to lodge the four years of tax returns.

Following his conviction, an order under subsection 8G(1) of the Income Tax Assessment Act was made, requiring Mr Trees to lodge the outstanding tax returns or face further strict penalties.

Court documents revealed Mr Trees did not comply with the order.

‘On or about 4 October, 2016, at Cumbalum, the defendant failed to comply with an order pursuant to section 8G of the Taxation Administration Act 1953,’ the documents stated.

On Tuesday Magistrate David Heilpern told Mr Trees court papers indicated he had previously pleaded not guilty to the charges.

‘Is that still the situation, are you still pleading not guilty,’ Mr Heilpern asked.

Failing to comply with the court order attracted more severe penalties, the court heard.

‘The penalty regime for failing to comply with the order is far more severe than the other penalties (for failing to lodge),’ Mr Heilpern said.

‘The fines are significant.’

Mr Trees then had a change of heart.

‘I am changing my plea to guilty your honour,’ he said.

‘I think I should get an adjournment for legal advice.’

Mr Heilpern adjourned Mr Trees’ matters until August 29 for sentence.

He marked Mr Trees’ court papers ‘no further adjournments’.

Byron cleaner escapes fine

A Byron Bay cleaner has escaped being fined for failing to lodge four years of tax returns as it was her first offence and she has almost paid back what she owed.

Janet Pearson appeared in Lismore Local Court on Tuesday and was represented by solicitor Ms Castrikum.

The 51 year-old single mother pleaded guilty to four counts of refusing/ failing to furnish/ return information when required.

The charges related to Ms Pearson not lodging tax returns for four years, between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2014, court documents revealed.

For the two year period from July 2010 to June 30, 2012, Ms Pearson had no tax payable as she did not earn above the $18,500 threshold.

In the financial year ending June 30, 2013, documents stated Ms Pearson owed tax calculated on an income of $31,508.

Ms Castrikum read a letter from Ms Pearson to the court detailing how she was a single mother who had suffered a death in the family during the period tax was owed, she had suffered from shingles and struggled to run her own cleaning business.

‘I had no idea of the repercussions of failing to lodge,’ the letter said.

Once she realised the gravity of the situation, Ms Castrikum said Ms Pearson arranged a payment plan with the Australian Taxation Office ATO.

‘She now has a payment plan with the ATO and is paying back $100 per week and it is due to be paid by December,’ she said.

‘I am truly embarrassed that I had to come to court because I was so ignorant of my responsibilities,’ Ms Pearson wrote in the letter.

‘I am determined to never be before the court again.’

This was Ms Pearson’s first criminal charge and she had never had a debt with the ATO before, the court heard.

Ms Castrikum submitted that it would be financially difficult for Ms Pearson to pay a fine, and if fined, it could jeopardise her continuing payments to the ATO.

The maximum penalty Ms Pearson faced, if convicted, was $18,600 in fines.

Magistrate David Heilpern agreed with Ms Castrikum’s submission that Ms Pearson would find it difficult to pay a fine.

‘There was not that much owing,’ he said.

‘You have paid back almost all that was owing.’

‘Imposing a fine would impede your ability to pay back the ATO.’

Mr Heilpern convicted Ms Pearson on all charges but did not impose a fine.

Electrician faces significant fine

An electrician who covers the Northern Rivers is facing a significant fine if convicted over failing to lodge three years tax returns and declaring seven months of GST.

Peter Woods represented himself at Lismore Local court on Tuesday where his business Positive Energy Australia Pty Ltd was charged with 10 counts of refusing/ failing to furnish/ return information when required.

The court heard three of the charges related to failing to lodge tax returns between July 1, 2011 and July 31, 3014.

The remaining seven charges were for failing to lodge business activity statements, which are used to calculate GST, for seven months between January 1 and July 31, 2016.

Mr Wood told the court the matters were previously listed before Sydney’s Mount Druitt Local Court on December 16 last year.

‘On that date a written notice of pleading was signed,’ Mr Heilpern said.

‘I would like to present evidence of financial material and a medical condition,’ Mr Heilpern said he notice said.

‘I want to plead guilty and I want sentencing to be moved to Lismore.’

Then, when Mr Woods appeared at Lismore Local Court on February 28, he again indicated he wanted to plead guilty.

‘He wanted to plead guilty but wanted to put material before the court to be considered,’ prosecutor Ms Din said.

Mr Woods was yet to get legal advice on the matters. the court heard.

‘I would like an adjournment to get some legal advice,’ he said.

Magistrate David Heilpern adjourned Mr Wood’s matters until August 29 for sentence.

He marked Mr Wood’s court papers ‘no further adjournments’.

Wollongbar mother charged with fraud

A Wollongbar mother has appeared before court charged with defrauding Centrelink over a three year period.

Rachel Keed appeared in Lismore Local Court on Tuesday facing two charges of receiving financial advantage from a Commonwealth entity.

She ‘intentionally failed to inform the Commonwealth of an event or a change in circumstances as required by law, and as a result of that omission, obtained a financial advantage for herself from the Commonwealth, being parenting payment single,’ court documents revealed.

She was represented by solicitor Mr Daoud.

It was alleged the 36 year-old mother failed to inform Centrelink of a change in her circumstances twice in the three years.

Between October 7, 2013, and July 13, 2015, was the first period Ms Keed allegedly failed to inform Centrelink of a change in her circumstances which would have resulted in her being paid less.

Then between August 10, 2015 and May 30, 2016, Ms Keed again failed to provide the required information.

‘This is the first time it has been in the list,’ Mr Daoud said.

‘There has been some discussions with the crown about the matters.’

Mr Daoud then asked for an adjournment for four weeks, which he said was likely to lead to a guilty plea on the next occasion.

Magistrate David Heilpern adjourned Ms Keed’s matters until June 27, when a plea must be entered.

Ms Keed is excused from appearing on the next occasion if legally represented.

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