Company fined $1.7 million by tax court for false declaration

ENTREPRENEUR Greg Millwood, a director of Millard Renovations and Homes Limited, on Monday narrowly missed going to trial in the Sutton Street Tax Court when he opted to plead guilty to four counts of knowingly making a false declaration that his company did no business in 2018 and 2019.

According to the Intelligence, Investigation and Enforcement and Legal Unit of Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ), Millard’s company, which is involved in building construction, “filed nil income tax returns for 2018 and 2019, including nil gross income”, which would mean that the company did no business for 2018 and 2019.

However, an attorney for TAJ on Monday told Judge Christine McNeil that “investigations have revealed that the company sold properties for $30 million in 2018 and $520.8 million in 2019”.

“As a consequence, it is brought before the court for breaches of Section 99 (1) of the Income Tax Act,” attorney Julaine Manderson said. The company and its director were jointly charged with two counts each.

Millwood’s attorney, however, told the judge that the situation was “a classic case of a father trying the son”.

“His father is a well-known developer and he [son] has been in and around the business for some time and as such started his own little enterprise. His father transferred properties and subsequently Mr Millwood found that he doesn’t have the capacity to get any loans from the bank. What happened is that the transfers, as [TAJ] would have presented, would have been signed by Mr Millwood, however, none of the funds were received by him or his company,” Millwood’s attorney said.

“So having read through Section 99, the fact that the word ‘knowing’ is stated, my client is totally naïve and inexperienced commercially. None of the transactions otherwise from the transfers were actually conducted by him. His internal advisors told him that he didn’t have to file anything and he did likewise,” the attorney explained further.

He further claimed that Millwood, having found that he could not get financing, turned over the business to his father, emphasising that although his client signed transfer documents for the properties on behalf of the company, he didn’t receive anything.

Judge McNeill, however, rejected this claim noting, “his signing transfers would tell people he was doing business, so if he wasn’t doing business he shouldn’t have signed anything”.

“Youthful exuberance and naivety your honour,” Millwood’s attorney offered.

Millwood subsequently pleaded guilty to four counts of knowingly making a false declaration but insisted that his father conducted the business and not him, in addressing the judge.

“But it was your company. This is not about you paying your taxes, it is about a false declaration being made about your income tax returns, saying you made nothing,” Judge McNeill rebutted.

The judge, in noting that technically there were four charges with the fines prescribed in law being $2 million each, admonished and discharged Millwood on two of the offences and fined him on the other two related to his company.

“Going forward you must abide by the law,” she said in slapping him with a $1.7-million fine for the two offences.