A tax cheat who refused to file his returns may have tried to hide his assets to avoid paying taxes, court heard Monday.
On the day his trial was to start, Michael Bradley Matvieshen pleaded guilty to 20 counts of failing to comply with the Income Tax Act. The Canada Revenue Agency suspected the Kelowna businessman opened numerous corporations with the intent to shelter his income, said Crown counsel Clarke Burnett.
"This is only their theory. The CRA was of the view this was designed to hide assets, create a complicated web of property transactions and avoid taxes," he said. "The only way they can get a handle on this is to get their hands on the documents they require."
Matvieshen failed to file his personal tax returns for 2008 and 2009 or to file corporate returns for Mill Creek Development, Kelowna Office Surplus, Marshall Business Centre and three numbered companies for two to three years from 2007 to 2010.
When tax authorities began investigating, he was director of 31 active companies.
Some had "significant assets," but were disposed of during that time frame, Burnett said.
The CRA officials asked Matvieshen in 2011 to give them documents explaining how the companies were connected, but he refused. They served him with requirements to file his returns two years ago this week.
"They were trying to get all this information and determine how (the companies) were all inter-related," said Burnett. "Unfortunately, getting that information . . . has been like pulling teeth.
"It's taken a considerable amount of time to get to where we are today."
Matvieshen, 50, complied with one requirement to file corporate tax returns for a numbered company in 2008 and '09. In recent months, he has completed several others.
But he's been convicted of six prior counts under the Income Tax Act, and he filed his last personal tax return in 2007.
"That's quite a number of years in which he has not abided by taxation laws and doing what millions of honest taxpayers do, and that's declare their income and get it filed," said Burnett.
Judge Anne Wallace agreed to fine Matvieshen $1,000 for each count - the minimum amount under the law - and to complete all the returns and information the CRA requires by May 20. He has a year to pay $20,000 worth of fines.
"Having already got here once, you do not want to make this any worse by not having those requirements met," the judge said.
Matvieshen faced 46 charges under the Income Tax Act.
The Crown stayed most of them.