News

Single Parent Food Bank operator convicted

Mirek Kwasny, 50, was fined $2,000 last Friday in Abbotsford provincial court for failing to file an income tax return. - Vikki Hopes
Mirek Kwasny, 50, was fined $2,000 last Friday in Abbotsford provincial court for failing to file an income tax return.
— image credit: Vikki Hopes

A man running a questionable food bank operation in the Fraser Valley has been convicted of two counts of non-compliance with the Income Tax Act.

Mirek Kwasny, 50, was fined $2,000 last Friday in Abbotsford provincial court for failing to file a return. Five other counts of the same charge were stayed.

Kwasny is not associated with the Abbotsford Community Services’ Food Bank or any other recognized food bank in the Lower Mainland.

He runs an operation known as the Single Parent Food Bank (SPFB), which has garnered concerns in various communities, including Abbotsford.

The News reported on the operation in the fall of 2010, and could not find a food distribution site for SPFB. A reporter tracked down Kwasny to a basement suite in Mission, but he did not answer the door.

Kwasny previously operated the Maple Ridge-based Canadian Charity Assist Society (CCAS), which had its charitable status revoked by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in 2008 for not meeting regulations of the Income Tax Act.

A CRA letter obtained by The News that was sent to Kwasny stated he “had not maintained adequate books, records or internal accounting controls.

“The audit also indicated the charity has not devoted all of its resources to charitable activities due to the extensive fundraising expenses and director benefits,” the letter continued.

Two contracted fundraisers earned 66.6 per cent and 50 per cent of total donations raised, the CRA stated.

When its charitable status was revoked, the CCAS was no longer permitted to provide donation receipts for income tax purposes.

Kwasny then began operating as the SPFB, which is not among the list of charities that are registered by the CRA.

The SPFB website (singleparentfoodbank.org) has recently been updated to state that it is a “small, independent, self-supporting organization” with no ties to “any other food bank type of organization or service.”

The website says the SPFB is “a registered non-profit organization” – and not a charity – and acknowledges that it cannot issue tax receipts but does provide “receipts of acknowledgment.”

It works with paid canvassers – who receive minimum wage – and volunteers, according to the website.

In addition to his conviction last week, Kwasny is before the courts in Port Coquitlam in relation to his conviction in 1995 of three counts of failure to comply with the Income Tax Act.

He has failed to pay his $3,000 fine, and the courts are seeking to have him jailed. His next appearance on that matter is scheduled for Sept. 2

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