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Bay Roberts man to repay over $100,000 to government

['<p>A week away from closure, new life was breathed into Harbour Grace Provincial Court Friday with the signing of a new 10-year lease agreement between the province and the owner of the Babb Building.</p>']
['<p>A week away from closure, new life was breathed into Harbour Grace Provincial Court Friday with the signing of a new 10-year lease agreement between the province and the owner of the Babb Building.</p>']

HARBOUR GRACE, NL — A man found guilty of owing the CRA upwards of $100,000 will soon have to begin paying that money back.

Reginald Mercer, 64, of Bay Roberts, recently plead guilty to five of his 35 charges, which included willfully evading payment of remittance of tax or net tax, unlawfully obtaining a tax rebate or refund, and making a false statement on a tax return.

However, Mercer’s guilty pleas applied to counts five through nine, which include both evading tax payment and making false statement on returns. The total amount of money came to $148,105.32. Mercer is to repay this amount through minimum monthly payments of $1,028.51 over a period of 12 years, until paid in full.

The remainder of Mercer’s charges were withdrawn.

During the agreed statement of facts, federal crown prosecutor Bill House stated that, at the time of the investigation, Mercer operated Mercer Transportation, a business that provided school bus transportation, as well as Mercer’s Cycle Shop, which provided cycling equipment and general automotive repairs. Mercer was the sole owner of both, where investigations first took place on Jan. 20, 2017.

During the investigation, CRA investigators seized original invoices for motor vehicle expenses and bus purchases, as well as four sales books belonging to Mercer Transportation containing invoices for unrecorded income. False motor vehicle expenses from Mercer’s Cycle Shop, and other

vendors, created by Mercer, resulted in an understatement of income on his 2010, 2011, and 2013 T1 income tax returns, totaling in $298,862.

It was also stated that Mercer created false invoices for bus purchases from five vendors to overstate his capital assets, resulting in an understatement of income on his 2012 and 2013 T1 income tax returns, totaling in $29,257.

The investigation concluded that Mercer, operating as Mercer Transportation, failed to report income of $132,248. Alongside this, Mercer Transportation was collecting GST and HST on the unreported income.

Mercer is retired and no longer operates his business, and ownership has been passed along to his sons.

“Obviously, this is a big amount of money,” said House, during the reading of the statement of facts. “Due to this, a payment schedule over an elongated period of time, which reflects (Mercer’s) current economic situation, is what Crown suggests.”

Mercer’s lawyer, Steven Orr, had no issues with the Crown’s suggestion, however, he did note that Mercer’s retirement would make it significantly difficult to pay the fines, but felt confident that it would pose no major issues. Orr also explained that the monthly payment of $1,028 is smaller than the Crown’s original suggestion, but was lowered prior to the matter being heard in court.

Judge Bruce Short, after hearing the facts of the matter, added that he felt as though the suggestion was fair, given the circumstances. chris.lewis@cbncompass.ca

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