It's bad PR: Waitara office in tax probes

LYN HUMPHREYS AND SARAH FOY
Last updated 05:00 23/02/2013

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The now defunct Waitara Public Relations office is facing tax evasion charges stretching over at least nine years.

The charges have been laid in the New Plymouth District Court by Inland Revenue.

The co-ordinator of the office, Rene Sharman, was unable to be contacted by the Taranaki Daily News yesterday nor was her New Plymouth lawyer, Catherine Quin.

Mrs Sharman, in her late 60s, is believed to be in Waikato Hospital.

The doors of the Queen St office closed suddenly in January and since then North Taranaki Community House, on McLean St, has taken over as the town's information centre.

A notice on the public relations centre's window says: "The public relations office will not be re-opening.

"We have enjoyed the years of giving Waitara our services and we hope you also enjoyed it too. But it is our time to stop and smell the roses."

Yesterday, Marion Wellington, who was closely involved with the centre for many years until about two years ago, said she had never had anything to do with the finances.

She referred any further comment to Ms Sharman.

The genealogy service was unaffected. It had previously shifted from the centre to rooms next door, Mrs Wellington said.

Community board member Ken Bedford was unaware of the charges before the courts.

"I knew there were problems but didn't know what they were."

Court papers allege the Waitara Public Relations and Information Service failed to file tax returns or GST returns with the Inland Revenue Department between 2003 and 2012.

All charges carry a maximum penalty of $4000 but it would be rare to receive a penalty as steep as this.

Court records show that the service was first charged in October and a hearing was set down for November 21.

But the defendant, who was undergoing surgery at that time, was remanded.

At a second hearing on February 14 no plea was entered and the defendant was again remanded until April 3.

Mr Bedford said he was keen to have the weekly community newspaper, the Waitara Angle, up and running again.

Mrs Sharman had run the Waitara Angle from the information centre.

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