Justice Denied – Dwayne Carens’ Story

Dwayne and his wife Brenda operated a sizable and successful business called “DB Sports and Marine” in Dryden, Ontario for some years. Much of their business was with Aboriginal people from remote Reserves, who are generally exempt from Retail Sales Tax. The Retail Sales Tax branch audited D & B in 2004, and claimed he had improperly handled some of the aboriginal tax exemption claims. The ministry assessed him $31 000 for sales tax not collected, plus penalties and interest.

Dwayne was sure he had acted correctly, but within two months, before he could launch his Appeal from this judgement, the ministry placed a lien on his personal residence. This destroyed his credit rating, and forced closure of the business. Fully 20 months later, interest being added all the while, the Ministry advised his appeal was rejected, with no explanation.

In 2007, presumably in an effort to negotiate a settlement, the Ministry acknowledged that the original assessment was in error. They deducted the assessment from his bill but insisted he pay the penalty and interest. Dwayne refused to pay penalties on an error he did not commit, and subsequently the $31 000 was quietly added back on to the growing account, interest still being added every month.

By 2009, in desperation, Dwayne, still receiving monthly bills for this money he felt he did not owe, and making payments as much as he could, hired a Toronto-based Tax Lawyer firm to try to clear the matter up. As a result of their inquiries, the Ministry conducted a second audit, and added more claims for failing to collect RST during the time the business was closed and nothing being sold! Apparently, he was being punished for hiring help!

The Toronto firm did their own audit, and advised the Ministry that their audit showed that Dwayne was entitled to a rebate, much less owe anything. The Ministry ignored this letter. As Dwayne could not come up with the Toronto firm’s fee to go to court, he went to court as his own lawyer, finally having his case ruled on in May 2015, 11 years after the ordeal started. The court found that too much time had elapsed so Dwayne’s claim could not be heard, even though most of the elapsed time was due to the Ministries own inaction. The court assessed him $40 000 Court costs, payable to the Ministry, added to his bill.
Dwayne has been suffering through surgeries and treatments for an older injury throughout this entire ordeal and acknowledges he might not have dealt with matters as effectively as he might wish. However, as he sees it, he has done nothing wrong, and it appears the government will go to any length to avoid acknowledging it made an error.

He continues to receive monthly bills with interest, is disabled, unable to work and has little income and has exhausted his savings. At last count his bill was $118,772.54. If anyone has any suggestions as to what Dwayne should do now, you can email him at dwaynecaren@shaw.ca or call him at 807-223-6998

Editor note: This reminds me of advice that the landowners received in our early fights in court against government. “You can’t win, just sign that you are guilty and pay the lower fine’. You just want to get out from under it. There are still a few stubborn people out there who just can’t accept this type of blackmail…