By Charlotte Helston
A Vernon city councillor was found guilty today of failing to file his taxes on time two years in a row, in 2007 and 2008 and fined a total of $2,000 for two counts of failing to comply with the Income Tax Act.
Patrick Nicol says his reason for fighting the charges was not monetarily based—the fines are menial compared to what he has paid in lawyer fees.
"It was the principle of it," Nicol says. During his trial, Nicol's lawyer argued that due-diligence was demonstrated by the accused.
"All the returns have been filed, and everything has been paid," Nicol says. "I was late in filing, I acknowledged that."
The nine-time councillor and chairman of the Regional District of North Okanagan says he was actively working with his accountant to file the late taxes in the summer of 2010, assuming all was good and well, when he received a letter that elevated the situation.
"The surprise element came with a summons for intending not to file," Nicol says. As soon as he got the summons, he says he paid every cent back.
"That was a month before the case ever even saw the light of day," Nicol says. Looking back, he says he never realized how much his tardy taxes would impact his life.
While he says there are no excuses for his violations of the Income Tax Act, Nicol describes the two years in question as troublesome times.
"My health was incredibly bad," he says. "But there's no excuse, it all just happened."
At the time he received the summons, Nicol was at the cusp of a 42-year career in radio broadcasting, working for new owners of Kiss FM. Wanting to be honest with his employers, he divulged his legal situation.
"(The owner) backed me for one day," Nicols says. "The next day, I got a different call." Nicol was fired two days after disclosing his circumstances.
"They suggest it was not the reason, but look at the timing," Nicol says.
But for Nicol, the ordeal has a silver lining. The support from family, friends and colleagues has given him "some of the best moments of his life."
He says the issue with his tax returns was known by his colleagues and by the public before he was re-elected.
"I assure the citizens this decision has nothing to do with my role as city councillor," Nicol says. "It's been an honour to serve the city."
Nicol says he is discussing an appeal with his lawyer.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (250)309-5230.