A 65-year-old Geraldton woman faces a lengthy stint in jail after the ATO lost patience with her astonishing disregard for the country’s tax compliance requirements, which have continued for no less than 10 years.
Judith Ahearn has been ordered to lodge her outstanding 91 returns as well as being sentenced to a 12-month suspended sentence in prison, for repeatedly failing to lodge BAS and income tax returns.
Ms Ahearn, who is a partner in a road freight business, was 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.
The sentencing follows years of warnings and notices from the ATO, as well as two previous court-imposed fines of $30,000 and $20,000 for non-lodgement.
Assistant commissioner, Peter Vujanic, said the court’s decision is a reminder of the seriousness of refusing to engage with the ATO.
“When business owners continually refuse to meet their tax obligations, they are gaining an unfair advantage over the majority of businesses who are honest and pay their fair share.”
Mr Vujanic said the ATO works hard to maintain a level playing field for all taxpayers.
“Despite our repeated attempts to engage with Ms 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 today sends a message to the community that lodging your tax returns is not optional.”
Mr Vujanic reaffirmed the ATO’s commitment to assisting viable small businesses to thrive.
“Small business people who are struggling to meet their tax obligations should contact the ATO as early as possible about any concerns they may be experiencing.
“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.”
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