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Taxes: compliance and education are essential

Sukh Dhaliwal, 
special to The Post 
 
Whether it is the roads we drive on, the schools we send our children to, the law enforcement that keeps our communities safe, or our universal access to health care, taxes are the lifeblood of what makes Canada the best country in the world to live.
As a former Member of Parliament who served as a public servant, I understand the essential nature of what taxes can accomplish in terms of nation building. Canada Revenue Agency statistics show that there are a significant number of small business owners who do not stay on top of their filings, and in the years I served in Ottawa, I also encountered this difficulty. While there was absolutely no malice nor intent behind the unfiled tax returns for a company that I served as a director of, this in no way lessened my obligation to adhere to the Income Tax Act.
Last month, I appeared in BC provincial court to take responsibility for this lapse and move forward. I pled to my mistake, paid the allotted fines, and demonstrated that all filings are now up to date and settled.
First and foremost, there is no substitute for awareness and education. I have just taken a brief introductory course offered online by the Canada Revenue Agency about Canada's tax system, responsible citizenship and the basics about income tax returns. This has led me to look into a wider variety of courses offered by the Chartered Professional Accountants Association (www.cpd.cica.ca/incometax.cfm).
For small business owners, these courses are a fantastic resource, and I encourage everyone in business for themselves to make use of them.
In the midst of tax filing season, I cannot think of a more timely topic for discussion, and my example is one that I feel many Canadians can learn from.
 
Sukh Dhaliwal is a former Member of Parliament who served the riding of Newton-North Delta from 2006 to 2011.
 

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