Appeal filed in CRA tax case

St. John’s man claims federal court judge’s decision biased

Published on May 12, 2014

A St. John’s man who recently lost his federal court battle to sue the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) over its alleged malicious attempts to collect payroll remittance arrears from him has filed an appeal.

Gary Hennessey, whose former company used to handle payroll services for hundreds of home-care workers on behalf of their clients, will represent himself in a matter set to be heard by the Federal Court of Appeal.

Administrative Services made statutory deductions from salaries before issuing the remainder to the workers.

It was eventually discovered some clients owed money to CRA dating back to a period when the provincial government allowed them to handle salary deductions themselves.

CRA attempted to settle the matter with the health authority that provided the money to pay the workers — Eastern Health — but later found Hennessey to be accountable for the arrears.

According to information included in Judge Robert L. Barnes decision delivered in March, Hennessey listed a liability to CRA of $650,000 when he filed for bankruptcy in 2008. Hennessey closed his business the year before.

Hennessey — whose initial suit was filed in 2010 — claims Barnes made a biased decision, ignored certain issues within the case, and misrepresented some of the evidence presented.

“What he said in his decision was that CRA’s actions were reasonable and fair,” Hennessey told The Telegram. “I think they were unlawful. If you threaten somebody several times and you walk away, is that right? Is that fair? Is that lawful? I don’t think so. Are they above the law? They have what appears to be the ability to collect money and use methods which most people would consider to be unethical, but I think they went far beyond that. To threaten me once, let alone several times, is unlawful.”

Hennessey said he did not have access to a detailed breakdown of the accounts owing money, which he would have needed in order to pay CRA. Barnes, meanwhile, contended in his decision that Hennessey failed to document how he managed the arrears accounts and “made a mess of the payroll accounts of his clients.” The judge also doubted his credibility as a witness.

“I’ve searched my mind to try and find a way to justify the wording of Judge Barnes’ decision, and I cannot,” said Hennessey. “If I had lost this case on a weighted balance where my evidence was considered fairly, it would be disappointing but more acceptable. But to be done the way it was from the beginning — to be so, in my opinion, overwhelmingly biased and to misrepresent, in my opinion, the evidence that was presented — is so unfair.”

Hennessey hopes his appeal produces a better outcome, though he does not seem overly optimistic.

“I will stand in front of those three judges and as long as they listen to me, which I suspect they have an obligation to do, I will present my case and I will detail my points as best I can. Do I expect to win? No. Why? Because my experience thus far has showed me that it’s not about the truth — it’s about power. It’s about money.”

 

arobinson@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TeleAndrew