Mathyssen Obtains Tax Relief for Veterans at Duchess of Kent Legion

LONDON – The Duchess of Kent Legion (Branch 263, Royal Canadian Legion) has finally received a GST tax break as of July 2nd, 2010, following nearly four years of work by NDP MP Irene Mathyssen. After a former employee embezzled tens of thousands of dollars in GST and PST remittances, the Legion was stuck with a massive tax debt. With interest and penalties accruing, the Legion owed the federal and provincial governments a total of $279 602 at the beginning of 2010. Although the employee was eventually caught, tried, and convicted in July 2004 of defrauding the Legion, the restitution ordered by the court could not be enforced.

Although promises of help from previous MPs and MPPs had proven to be empty words, the Legion approached MP Mathyssen in early 2007 asking for assistance. Despite making what payments could be managed, the Legion found itself sinking nearly $10,000 further in debt each year. Although cabinet shuffles forced Mathyssen to start over again, working through three different Minsters of National Revenue to seek a solution, she persisted in her efforts.

Finally, after meeting with current Minister Keith Ashfield (MP, Fredericton) in March of 2010, Mathyssen found a Minister who was willing to work with her to help find a reasonable settlement for the Legion. Working with the Minister’s office and the local Legion members, Mathyssen helped negotiate an arrangement to relief the federal portion of the debt load.

The Canadian Revenue Agency acknowledged the circumstances of the debt and rightly decided the Legion has worked in good faith and was not at fault for the debt. Accepting Mathyssen’s proposal, the CRA agreed to cancel all penalties and interest on the arrears, reducing the Legion’s debt to the original $80, 670 principal forgiving nearly $36 000. As negotiated between Mathyssen, the Federal Government and the Legion, a $100 a month payment plan is in place to pay off the principal debt owed to the government.

“The Legion was always willing to pay back the original debt as finances allowed, but the interest accruing was crippling their ability to keep the doors open. Employees had to be laid off, maintenance and repairs delayed, and functions for veterans scaled back.” says Mathyssen, “I am delighted this arrangement has been accepted, now this Legion can move forward and get back on stable financial footing.”

Mathyssen will now move to help convince the Provincial Government to follow the federal lead and relieve the Legion of its PST debt which reaches upwards of $170 000. Mathyssen wants to see the Veterans continue to do good work for the community, helping youth sports teams, supporting the veterans at Parkwood Hospital, and providing area veterans a place to gather and socialize with their peers, without having to worry about losing their building.