By Adrian Morrow
Associate News Editor
The Ryerson Students’ Union is being audited for not paying taxes and might have to fork over more than $50,000 to the provincial government.
Vice President Finance and Services Chris Drew said the province will soon review four years of finances to decide what the students’ union owes. “We’re in the very early stages [of the audit],” he said.
“It will probably take a while for this to take place.” The problem was that, prior to 2006, the union didn’t realize it had to charge PST on some of its goods.
Previous RSU managers didn’t think the union had to pay sales tax because it was a member-run organization. CopyRite, the RSU-run photocopying and office service, was the source of most of the sales that didn’t pay tax.
The students’ union corrected the problem and reviewed its records. It reported that it was $50,000 in debt, but the province decided that it would have to conduct a full audit.
“It’s possible they will impose another penalty on top of our disclosure,” he said. “We did the right thing by catching this when we did and making the voluntary disclosure. We could have not mentioned it, but that would have been risky.”
After Drew told the RSU’s board of directors of the audit on Monday, director Frank Whitestone asked whether the RSU’s auditor was liable for not catching the mistake sooner.
“I don’t know if our auditors are liable, but it’s a good question and I’ll look into it,” said Mike Verticchio, executive director of operations and interim manager of the Student Campus Centre, where CopyRite is located.
While most of the RSU’s finances are in order, the union also has a deficit in its legal budget.
“We budgeted $10,000 to $15,000 and we’ve now spent $21,000,” Drew said. “It wasn’t the fault of the budget committee.”
The rising costs were caused in part by a wrongful dismissal suit by Working Students’ Centre co-ordinator Rebecca Rose.
Rose was fired by Abe Snobar, Vice President Student Life and Events, for calling him an “asshole” during a heated political exchange.
She has since been rehired. This year has also seen an enormous rise in staff grievances — 16 compared to none last year — which can cost money to resolve if sent to arbitration.
“In my two years at the RSU, we never had to go to arbitration, but this year we went twice,” President Nora Loreto said.
While the grievances are confidential, Loreto has in the past said that staff morale is low as a result of infighting in this year’s RSU, primarily between herself and Snobar.