A Western Australian doctor has been sent to jail for seven months for failing to comply with court orders to lodge 18 outstanding income tax returns and business activity statements.
Dr Iain Russell did not lodge income tax returns for 2013-17 and BAS for 13 months between May 2017 and June 2018 despite a court order to file.
In February 2020, Dr Russell was convicted at the Perth Magistrates Court and fined $50,000 for failing to provide the Commissioner of Taxation with the outstanding income tax returns and BAS.
In sentencing, Dr Russell was ordered to make the outstanding lodgements within two months, but he still failed and was prosecuted again.
On 11 April 2022, Dr Russell was convicted of 18 charges of failing or refusing to comply with court orders.
During sentencing, the magistrate stressed that complying with tax obligations was not optional and that failure to do so placed a burden on the rest of the community.
Dr Russell will serve two months in jail after entering into a $10,000 recognisance to be of good behaviour for the remainder of his sentence.
As part of the good behaviour bond, he will need to lodge each of the outstanding tax returns and BAS by 30 September 2022.
ATO acting assistant commissioner David Mendoza welcomed the sentence, saying that those who deliberately try to evade the tax system would be held to account.
“Our focus is on supporting those who are doing the right thing, and we know this is most people,” Mr Mendoza said. “If you’re falling behind on your obligations or have made an honest mistake, we will work with you to find a solution and get you back on track.
“However, where people continue to do the wrong thing or refuse to engage with us, we will initiate stronger action.
“We have a duty to the community to see these matters through, and do not take the decision to prosecute lightly.”
Mr Mendoza said the ATO would make multiple attempts to contact taxpayers to provide support to those who are behind with their lodgement obligations.
“This instance involved a history of both failing to lodge information as required, and subsequently failing to comply with court orders,” Mr Mendoza said.
“This represents sustained disregard for one’s tax obligations, and damages the integrity of the tax system.”
Tony Zhang is a journalist at Accountants Daily, which is the leading source of news, strategy and educational content for professionals working in the accounting sector.
Since joining the Momentum Media team in 2020, Tony has written for a range of its publications including Lawyers Weekly, Adviser Innovation, ifa and SMSF Adviser. He has been full-time on Accountants Daily since September 2021.