The Minister of National Revenue has developed a team of bureaucrats to reassess fishers who were wrongly taxed on their 1999 licence buyouts.
Gail Shea also extended an invitation to others not involved with the recent legal case to have their taxes reassessed last Wednesday.
The case of fishermen who took buyout packages in 1999 was recently settled in federal court. St. John’s lawyer Eli Baker took the case before a federal judge after six years of working its way through the courts.
In the spring of this year, a federal court judge ruled that Revenue Canada must re-determine the tax liability of the retirees.
A release from Minister Shea’s office encouraged those who took part in the court challenge as well as any fisher who feels they were unfairly taxed on their licence buyout, to contact the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
“As Minister of National Revenue, I instructed CRA to create a dedicated team to review each of the fishers’ requests,” wrote the minister in a release. “Our expectation is that re-assessments will begin to be issued in the coming weeks. There may be fishers out there who were not a party to these court challenges throughout the years who feel they too may be entitled to a re-assessment. I would encourage them to contact the CRA as soon as possible.”
The release from the Conservative minister took a shot at the previous Liberal administration for ignoring the problem.
“Unfortunately, successive Liberal Fisheries Ministers did not consider the tax implications on fishermen, which forced the federal government and fishers into a costly legal battle that has taken more than a decade to resolve.”
Mr. Baker said about 100 of his clients have already been reassessed. He said the returns they have received range from $0 to $50,000.
Mr. Baker said the ones who have received nothing have in fact gotten out of debt. They already owed a significant amount to Revenue Canada.
Mr. Baker said he is in the process of contacting about 90 other fishermen who he thought would be eligible for re-assessment but did not make the deadline to take part in the previous court challenege.
He warns that the minister’s invitation is very cautious in its wording, and said many who think they should be reassessed may not get anything.
“I’m wary but I’m also encouraged,” said Mr. Baker.
Fishers who wish to contact the Canada Revenue Agency about their tax returns can call 1-800-959-8281.