Troubled Sudbury contractor facing taxing issues

Owner of EcoLife Home Improvements hasn't been filing his taxes

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The owner of a Greater Sudbury home-improvement company facing 45 fraud charges has also been in trouble with Revenue Canada for not filing his personal and corporate income taxes over the last decade.

On Monday, David Murray, 46, pleaded guilty to eight federal Income Tax Act charges of not filing business income taxes for the tax years 2010 through to 2016 concerning numbered company 1323357 Ontario Limited, and one count of not filing business income taxes concerning EcoLife Home Improvements for the 2016 taxation year.

The charges were issued following notices that were issued in June 2017.

The eight pleas of guilt were in addition to nine charges under the federal Income Tax Act Murray pleaded guilty to on April 9 for not filing personal income taxes from 2006 to 2016. A pre-sentence report was ordered to assist with sentencing.

Ontario Court Justice John Keast, accepting a joint sentencing submission from federal prosecutor Serge Treherne and defence lawyer George Fournier, fined Murray the minimum $1,000 on 16 of the counts because the accused had since filed a corporate income tax return for EcoLife Home Improvements.

Keast also ordered that Murray comply with the various Revenue Canada orders to get the negligent returns filed.

Fournier, noting that Murray has no income after the city suspended his business licence, asked that he have until mid-September of 2020 to pay his fines.

Fournier said the additional time is needed due to “negative publicity” Murray has experienced for his EcoLife business, his inability to find new employment and that his spouse is currently his family’s only breadwinner.

He said Murray spent a significant amount of money with a chartered accounting firm to get his taxes done, only to be dropped as a client, leaving him in a quandary.

“It would appear he has made some progress with regard to filing the returns, but he is going to continue to try and find employment in order to hire another accounting firm to complete these returns,” said Fournier. “It would appear Mr. Murray is basically surviving at the moment. Although his spouse is employed, it’s been very difficult for his entire family.”

Treherne asked for a due date of June 30, 2020, for Murray to pay the fines. He noted that the numbered company Murray ran was a successful enterprise at one time.

“For 10 years, Mr. Murray did not file income taxes,” he said. “Not a dime goes to Revenue Canada.”

Treherne said Murray then failed to file business taxes for EcoLife Home Improvements.

“This is a very egregious situation,” he said. “Every citizen in Canada has to file income taxes. For Mr. Murray to essentially thumb his nose at Revenue Canada is nothing short of outrageous.”

Keast decided on a due date of Aug. 31, 2020.

In an emotion-filled speech to Keast prior to sentencing, Murray said that since 2005, his life has been a disaster due to developments such as deaths in the family, a nasty divorce, a client stiffing him for $50,000 in 2013, and even the lengthy Vale strike that saw “every miner become an instant contractor” and competing for work against his business.

“I’m sorry for losing my composure,” he said, his voice filled with angst. “I don’t know what to do.”

As for his current fraud charges with EcoLife Home Improvements, which led to the loss of his business licence and the inability to find new work, Murray told Keast that “all of a sudden I got caught up in a program where I can’t do a year’s work in 90 days.”

Keast told Murray that Revenue Canada rarely prosecutes people or businesses for not filing income taxes, adding that in his many years as a judge, he has only dealt with three such cases.

“Revenue Canada has been very fair to you,” said Keast. “This is not a failure to pay taxes. This is a failure to file … The irony of all of this in this case, (is) all these years, you might not be paying any tax due to this mess. Revenue Canada has been more than fair in their dealings with you here.”

hcarmichael@postmedia.com

Twitter: @HaroldCarmichae

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