A BORONIA dentist has accumulated more than $1.2 million in debt in what the Australian Tax Office has described as one of the worst cases of tax evasion ever uncovered.

Dr Thomas Balfoort failed to fill in a tax return for 15 years from 1998 and was ordered to pay more than $600,000 in back taxes and the same amount in penalties to the ATO.

But after he was ordered to file his late returns, the 69-year-old dentist repeatedly failed to meet deadlines set for them and was fined several times.

ATO barrister Alf Micaleff said Balfoort’s tax evasion was “one of the worst I have seen”.

“He has not paid direct tax for 15 years. That’s $40,000 a year that he hasn’t paid one cent of,” Mr Micaleff told Ringwood Magistrates Court.

Appearing last week, Balfoort was fined a further $12,000 and ordered to complete 200 hours of community service for failing to comply with another court order last year.

Balfoort eventually filed the missing tax returns late last year, which cost him $25,000 in accounting fees.

His lawyer, Glenys Jardine, said everything went “horribly wrong” for Balfoort in 1998 when a property development deal went sour.

“The cost of that was bankruptcy and he lost his marriage,” she said. “It was extremely traumatic.”

She said Balfoort currently had no assets and rented his practice and his Boronia home. Balfoort was discharged from bankruptcy in 2005.

Magistrate Max Cashmore questioned whether Balfoort had distributed assets elsewhere.

“You have got to have earned a lot of money to have that [tax] liability. It’s got to have gone somewhere,” Mr Cashmore said.

Mr Micaleff said people earning an income in Australia were duty-bound to lodge the correct paperwork. The Australian people were the real victims of Balfoort’s tax evasion.

Mr Micaleff said that despite the unlikelihood of the total debt ever being paid, jailing Balfoort would not recoup any of the money. “He is very lucky that I am not requesting he is marched out that door [to the holding room].”

In sentencing, Mr Cashmore said he took into account Balfoort’s guilty pleas. . “It’s a very sorry situation.”

Balfoort must complete his community service within 12 months.

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