Woman, 64, gets jail term for missing ATO returns
INSTEAD of being ordered to lodge missing tax documents dating back to 2001, a Gladstone woman will have a jail term hanging over her head for the next 12 months.
Joanne Lee Mackenzie pleaded guilty in Gladstone Magistrates Court last week to one count of failing to comply with a condition. The condition came off the back of a conviction in 2015 when Mackenzie fronted court on 45 counts of failing to lodge returns with the Australian Taxation Office.
In November 2015 Mackenzie was placed on a good behaviour bond for three years and ordered to lodge all the missing returns by 2016.
The case was reopened in July 2018 and she was ordered to lodge the returns by October 19, 2018. A representative of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions told the court Mackenzie again failed to lodge the returns, prompting her third time before the court for the same offending.
The representative told the court the ATO had sought compliance from Mackenzie since 2013 for missing returns.
Defence lawyer Jun Pepito said 64-year-old Mackenzie had been out of business since 2013 and had no way of obtaining the information the ATO sought.
"She started a business in 1996, in 2000 it went downhill. In 2013 she decided to take a step down, however all the records from the business she then had no access to.
"She has been declared bankrupt by the government since 2015."
Mr Pepito said because of this it was likely Mackenzie would spend time in jail as the court continued to make orders she could not comply with.
Acting Magistrate Athol Kennedy said it would be "nonsense" to continue making the court order to lodge the returns if she had no access.
Mr Kennedy instead imposed a 12-month jail term, suspended immediately. He also placed Mackenzie on a 24-month good behaviour order.
"If the tax office doesn't like that decision, well, they can do whatever," he said.