[from South Pacific Pictures, We’re Here to Help]
In February 1994, Christchurch businessman Dave Henderson walked into the Inland Revenue Department. He was not a happy man. His girlfriend had recently been there to collect a refund Dave’s company was owed. A male IRD staff member made some suggestive comments to her. Dave told the IRD officer that if he ever talked to one of his employees like that again he would kick his “fat arse from one end of Cashel Street to the other”.
And so a nightmare of Kafkaesque proportions began.
Twenty-seven audits and three years later Dave Henderson’s life was in tatters. The IRD demanded Dave pay them $924,341 in taxes and penalties. He was charged with fraud, his business folded around him and his reputation was in tatters. He was bankrupted, had to sell his home, and his relationship collapsed under the stress.
But Dave refused to give in. He kept fighting.
He also kept both his sense of humour and his records. Of every surreal phone conversation. Of every demand for payment of taxes owed on credit notes that no-one knew anything about. Of every piece of paper that mysteriously went missing at the IRD.
He kept fighting until his battle reached the very highest levels of Government.
And finally, four years after the comedy of errors began, the IRD admitted it had no idea how it had arrived at the $924,341 assessment. Every charge against him suddenly evaporated. They even paid him the GST refund that started the whole ball rolling.
Dave Henderson eventually got his life and his business back together. And in a final ironic two-fingered salute, he bought the building which houses the South Island head office of the IRD.
And renamed it Henderson House.
We’re Here to Help is directed by Jonathan Cullinane and produced by South Pacific Pictures, whose productions include feature films Sione’s Wedding and Whale Rider and television series Outrageous Fortune and Shortland Street.
© South Pacific Pictures