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  • Western Australia doctor prescribed jail time for failing to comply with court orders

    A Western Australia doctor has recently been sentenced to seven months’ jail and placed on a good behaviour bond for failing to comply with court orders to lodge 18 outstanding income tax returns and business activity statements (BAS).

    Dr Iain Russell failed to lodge income tax returns for the 2013 to 2017 income years, and BAS for 13 of the months between May 2017 and June 2018 inclusive.

    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 lodgments within two months. However, he still failed to lodge, and was prosecuted once more.

    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 is not optional and that failure to do so places a burden on the rest of the community.

    Dr Russell will be released from jail after two months, upon 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.

    Acting Assistant Commissioner David Mendoza welcomed the sentence, reiterating that those who deliberately try to evade the tax system will be held to account.

    “Our focus is on supporting those who are doing the right thing, and we know this is most people. 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,” Mr Mendoza said.

    “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 will make multiple attempts to contact taxpayers to provide support to those who are behind with their lodgment obligations.

    “This instance involved a history of both failing to lodge information as required, and subsequently failing to comply with court orders. This represents sustained disregard for one’s tax obligations, and damages the integrity of the tax system,” Mr Mendoza said.

    You can report tax evasion to the ATO by completing the tip-off form at www.ato.gov.au/tipoff, or by phoning 1800 060 082.

    This matter was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

    Last modified: 20 Apr 2022QC 69359