Court orders 12-month suspended sentence for woman who defied the ATO.
A 65-year-old Geraldton woman ordered to lodge her outstanding 91 tax returns has been sentenced to a 12-month suspended sentence in prison for repeatedly failing to submit Business Activity Statements (BAS) and income tax returns.
Judith Ahearn, who is a partner in a road freight business, was last week sentenced in the Geraldton Magistrates Court after being found guilty of 91 charges of failing to comply with a court order.
Mrs Ahearn’s failure to lodge her BAS dates back to October 2008, with her unlodged income tax returns falling in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 financial years.
Last week’s sentencing follows years of warnings and notices from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), as well as two previous court-imposed fines of $30,000 and $20,000 for non-lodgement.
ATO Assistant Commissioner Peter Vujanic said the court’s decision is a reminder of the seriousness of refusing to engage with the tax office.
“The ATO works hard to maintain a level playing field for all taxpayers,” Mr Vujanic said. “(This) court decision shows that no one is above the law.
“Despite our repeated attempts to engage with Mrs Ahearn to resolve her outstanding tax returns, she has shown a complete disregard for her basic obligations as a member of the Australian community.
“While we’re disappointed that we have not been able to resolve this matter outside of the court system, we hope that the sentence handed down sends a message to the community that lodging your tax returns is not optional.
“Our key message to anyone who’s having issues is to work with us to sort things out. Burying your head in the sand isn’t helpful for anyone.”
What is the longest you have gone without lodging a tax return? Have you ever been in trouble with the tax man? Were you able to resolve it easily?