Contractor gets hefty fine for tax evasion

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Scales of Justice

Michael Searle, a local building contractor, was fined $93,272 Tuesday in provincial court in St. John’s after pleading guilty to tax evasion charges.

The fine, which must be paid within three years, represents 100 per cent of the taxes Searle evaded.

According to a news release, Searle was fined $47,690 under the Income Tax Act for failing to report net business income of $191,479 in 2004.

The court heard that Searle operated as a self-employed contractor for 10 years, buying land, building and selling homes. He prepared sales invoices and contracts, maintained a separate business bank account, as well as appropriate sales and purchase journals.

He even obtained a business number from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and registered his trade name, Artistic Builders 2000, but he never reported any business activity to the CRA on his income tax returns. He operated solely in the underground economy.

The only income reported was $10,000 which was earned from another source.

 Searle was also fined $45,581 for 2004 under the Excise Tax Act for failing to remit harmonized sales tax of $24,371 that he charged his clients and for claiming fraudulent input tax credits of $21,210 for personal items relating to the construction of his personal residence and the purchase of a motor bike.

Similar charges relating to the 2005 and 2006 tax years were withdrawn.

Organizations: Canada Revenue Agency

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