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Tax fines net $500,000

Twelve Surrey residents were among 139 B.C. and Yukon individuals convicted last year for failing to file tax returns.

With the deadline to file 2007 tax returns fast-approaching, Canada Revenue Agency announced Monday fines for those failing to file returns last year amounted to $498,705 in court fines and 170 days in jail.

In the Lower Mainland, 70 people were convicted for a total of $229,705 in fines and 126 days in jail. In addition, Lower Mainland compliance officers collected 26,091 returns from people who had failed to file in 2007. Additional taxes, penalties and interest from those returns totalled $181,418,761.

Under the Income Tax Act, anyone who does not file a return as required, or does not comply with a court order to file, is guilty of an offence. On summary conviction, the person or corporation is subject to a fine of $1,000 to $25,000 and imprisonment for up to 12 months for each count.

In addition to any fines imposed by the courts, people who are convicted of failing to file tax returns must still file the returns and pay the full amount of taxes owing, plus interest, as well as any civil penalties that may be assessed by the CRA. For most individuals, the deadline to file a 2007 personal income tax return is midnight April 30.

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