Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Income tax preparer facing charges

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A Winnipeg business owner and income tax preparer faces hefty fines and possible jail time after being charged under the Income Tax Act.

Rod Layco, owner of RDL Computer Business Data and Consulting Services Ltd., faces five charges of filing false child-care receipts, false charitable donation receipts, and reporting babysitting income that was never earned or received.

Layco's company offers income tax preparation, computer training and immigration "assistance" although Layco is not a licensed immigration consultant. He is accused of making hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of false statements on clients' basic income tax returns.

He is considered innocent until proven guilty.

If found guilty, the maximum penalty is 200 per cent of the amount of tax thought to be evaded and up to five years in jail. He is to appear in court Monday.

Tax preparers can be penalized when they knowingly make false statements on their clients' tax returns, such as including false deductions or not including all of their clients' income, according to the Canada Revenue Agency.

Since 2000, 19 tax preparers in Canada have been assessed nearly $1.7 million in third-party penalties. Audits of 15 tax preparers are now underway, the agency said.

"It's important that people are advised to be careful of who they are dealing with," said CRA spokeswoman Emilia Kotris in Winnipeg.

Kotris said there are several recognized volunteer services in Manitoba to help newcomers and others who need assistance preparing their income tax returns and can't afford it.

The agency lists some of them online at www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/vlntr/clncs/mb-eng.html

The federal government has targeted key players in fraudulent tax schemes with Project Trident, honing in on three types of fraud: tax preparer fraud, charity-related fraud, and identity theft. There are 81 investigations underway, with more than 30,000 taxpayers to be contacted.

So far, Project Trident has resulted in $2,529,670 in fines and convictions resulting in 361 months of mandatory jail time.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 19, 2010 B3

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