Drug dealer turns the tables on taxman
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August 22 2002 at 07:01AM </TD></TR>
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Sydney - An Australian court has given a convicted heroin dealer the all-clear to write off A$220 000 (about R1,3-million) in stolen drug money from his tax bill.
The Federal Court ruled that as jailed felon Francesco Dominico La Rosa had earned his taxable income through selling drugs, he was likewise entitled to deduct from his taxes expenses incurred as part of his criminal endeavours.
Perth resident La Rosa was jailed for 12 years in 1996 for importing and selling heroin.
As soon as he was behind bars, Australia's meticulous tax authorities pounced and presented him with a A$450 000 tax bill based on what court proceedings had revealed about his estimated illicit income.
La Rosa fired back with a claim to deduct the A$220 000 he said he had buried in the garden of his daughter's home and which he intended to use to buy more drugs.
He said the money had been stolen by other criminals when he went to make a deal.
He had already won an earlier court case but the Australian Taxation Office appealed.
Federal Court Justice Robert Nicholson rejected the appeal on Wednesday, according to court documents.
"The findings of the tribunal are that the occasion of the loss occurred during an intended drug purchase and was directly connected with the carrying on of the taxpayer's illicit drug dealing business," said Nicholson in his ruling.
"For these reasons I do not consider that this ground of appeal can succeed." </TD></TR></T></TABLE>