20 Mar 2017

Cooks clothing company failed to pay tax for 10 years

6:22 am on 20 March 2017

A pioneering Cook Islands clothing company and its owner have been fined for failing to pay tax over a 10 year period.

Ellena Tavioni-Pittman faced eight charges of aiding and abetting her company, Tav, to deduct PAYE or pay as your earn tax from employees salaries which was then used for other purposes.

The company itself also faced eight charges of knowingly applying PAYE deductions and diverting employees' money elsewhere.

Tav owes the Inland Revenue department more than US$359,000 in unpaid tax, while Ms Tavioni-Pittman herself owes US$61,000 in unpaid personal income tax.

The Chief Justice, Sir John Hugh Williams, rejected Ms Tavioni-Pittman's assertion that she was out of her depth when it came to tax matters, saying the company was deliberately managed to avoid tax.

Sir John fined Ms Tavioni-Pittman and Tav more than US$78,000, saying the fines recognised the country's restricted economy and the need to maintain the company's 20 staff.