'It doesn't look good': Court doc alleges former MP Rob Anders failed to report $750K, hid capital gains

·4 min read

Former Conservative MP Rob Anders failed to report more than $750,000 in net income over a five-year period, the Canada Revenue Agency alleges in a court document recently obtained by CBC News.

A search warrant application filed at the Calgary courthouse alleges fraudulent rental expenses, mystery deposits, unreported income and capital gains hidden from the CRA by Anders, who is facing five tax-evasion-related charges.

Anders, 48, a long-time proponent for lower taxes, also failed to file his taxes in 2016 and 2017, and sold two of his four rental properties without reporting more than $350,000 in capital gains, according to the document.

"It doesn't look good," said Kim Moody, CEO and director of Moody's Tax, which has offices in Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto.

"It's a big number. I don't care who you are, that's a big number."

Anders' first court appearance is this morning (Oct. 30), though he's not required to be there in person.

Anders' charges under the Income Tax Act include three counts of making false or deceptive statements, obtaining a refund he was not entitled to and evading payment of taxes. The offence dates span from 2012 to 2015.

Troubles with the CRA began for Anders in 2015 with an audit of his 2012 and 2013 tax returns. Ultimately, a criminal investigation was launched ending with charges being laid last month.

The details of Anders' alleged tax evasion come from an ITO (information to obtain), which is an application submitted by an investigator to a judge in order to secure a search warrant.

ITOs contain information that has not yet been proven in court.

In this case, a search warrant was granted last year allowing CRA investigators with the agency's criminal investigation division (CID) to search Anders' 6,500-square-foot home in the southwest community of Springbank, a 12-foot cargo-trailer parked on the property and the office of his accountant.

CBC News reached out to Anders' lawyer, Paul Brunnen, for a comment, but he declined as he just received disclosure and has yet to digest it.

Prosecutor Tyler Lord also declined to comment on the contents of the ITO.

Tax refunds of $426K issued to Anders

In 2015, the auditor discovered unexplained deposits in Anders' bank account — which hadn't been reported as rental income — and overstated rental expenses.

Between 2012 and 2017, Anders owned four rental properties: two in Calgary, one in Ottawa and one in Saanich, B.C.

At each home, Anders rented rooms — a total of 30 units — by the month. He told investigators he had no signed contracts with his renters.

Anders sold two of his properties in 2013 and 2016, failing to report the capital gains in each case, the CRA alleges.

From 2001 to 2015, the CRA investigation showed Anders was refunded more than $426,000 because his taxable income was reduced by rental losses each year.

Rental losses of $860K reported in 5-year period

The net rental loss reported by Anders from 2001 to 2015 totalled $859,000, and his reported rental expenses were nearly $1.7 million.

"That just smacks to me that the expenses should be reviewed significantly to see if they're appropriate deductions," said Moody. "That's obviously what the CRA did."

Moody says it's common for people to claim inappropriate expenses.

The auditor also found Anders had received expense reimbursement, tax refunds and GST credits, for which it's alleged he was not entitled.

The former Calgary West MP held his seat from 1997 to 2015, first for the Reform Party and then for the Conservative Party.

It's been unclear what Anders has been up to since his departure from federal politics. But according to the ITO, in 2016 and 2017 Anders sold securities through Acumen Capital Finance Partners Ltd.

His proceeds from the sales of securities totalled $2.4 million for those two years.

The CRA sought federal writ of seizure of Anders' property for $227,000 which was granted in March 2018 and was set to expire in March 2020.

According to rentfaster.ca, there are still rooms available for rent in Anders' home.

If convicted, Anders could face up to two years in jail and fines between 50 and 200 per cent of the evaded taxes.

"There's an air of stupidity," said Moody. "If it was my client that was doing this, I would say, 'holy cow, you're not paying attention to your affairs here.'"