Carpet layer floored with $22,000 tax fine

Stephen Cunial has been nailed on dozens of taxation offences.
Stephen Cunial has been nailed on dozens of taxation offences.

A CARPET layer has been floored after being nailed on dozens of taxation offences and hit with a $22,000 fine.

Stephen John Cunial then made his problems worse.

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Fined by a Gladstone magistrate he failed to comply with a court order to submit his overdue taxation and GST documents.

Cunial, 42, was back before the court this week and pleaded guilty to 29 counts of failing to comply with the order under the Australian Taxation Administration Act.

The court heard that while self-employed Cunial excelled at laying carpets but not so with his financial records.

Cunial worked between Gladstone and Hervey Bay and failed to lodge returns for financial years between 2001 and 2012. 

Commonwealth DPP prosecutor Anita Sharma said the maximum penalty for each offence was a fine of $8,500 and 12 months jail.

She said Cunial was convicted of 30 offences in September 2014, fined $22,000, and ordered to lodge all outstanding returns by December 31, 2014.

He lodged only one.

"He has failed to lodge the outstanding taxation returns. It is serious as it has a great impact on revenue collecting," Ms Sharma said.

"It demonstrates a complete disregard for his legal responsibility."

Defence lawyer Kylie Devney submitted documents to magistrate Jeffrey Clarke detailing a taxation completion and payment plan set up by an accountant for Cunial.

"He has always been a hard worker, operates on his own and did not have the financial means to hire someone to look after (his accounts)," Ms Devney said.

"He is good at his trade skills but has difficulties to understand what he reads.

"He can read something many times then put it aside, in a sense putting his head in the sand.

"He has been struggling emotionally through this and is a man who felt overwhelmed.

"He basically wants to work his way out of trouble."

Ms Devney said Cunial had been advised it would cost around $15,000 for accountants to complete the documents but he was never in a financial position to service that.

He was paying down the fine but still owes $16,200.

Ms Devney said Cunial had not led a lavish lifestyle and was paying off the family home in Hervey Bay.

She said once his taxation returns are completed he could be liable to owe the ATO over $27,000.

"There is an obligation for all of us to comply with our taxation obligations," magistrate Clarke told Cunial.

"I accept the evidence of your financial position and that you have had periods of illness and injury yet to be worked through."

Mr Clarke said he was a hard worker who fell short with his taxation obligations.

Mr Clarke said Cunial faced the very real prospect of jail but his failures to comply had not been a wilful disregard of his obligations.

Cunial was convicted and put on a two year good behaviour bond. He must lodge his returns with the ATO by December 31, 2017 or be resentenced.

Topics:  gladstond region gladstone

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