LexisNexis® CLE On-Demand features premium content from partners like American Law Institute Continuing Legal Education and Pozner & Dodd. Choose from a broad listing of topics suited for law firms, corporate legal departments, and government entities. Individual courses and subscriptions available.
The tax protestor movement is alive and well in Canada and getting some publicity just in time to serve as a warning to Canadian taxpayers readying their annual returns.* I read with interest the recent case of Russell Porisky and his wife Elaine Gould, who ran a tax evasion counseling scheme out of B.C. for many years. It seems Porisky cooked up a "natural person" argument about how Canada could not tax people acting in the capacity of natural persons, but could only tax them if they acted (presumably out of fear or ignorance) as legal persons. Gould went along with Porisky to her detriment; both have been convicted and I believe still await sentencing. The arguments, like those used by the darlings of the U.S tax protestor movement (led by the great Irwin Schiff, currently serving a 13 year sentence for his part in the ongoing saga), are completely nonsensical as well as spurious but make for good theatre. Check out this exchange documented by the judge in the case:
At the close of the Crown's case I asked Mr. Porisky and Ms. Gould whether they wished to call any evidence. Mr. Porisky said he could not make that decision unless he understood whether he was to give evidence in his "inherent personality as a natural person with no intent to profit". He wanted to tell the truth in the stand but the capacity he was to testify in would make a difference to his evidence. A few minutes later in the dialogue he said
I need to know if I make the decision to get into the stand, from which perspective can I speak? Like therefore I need to know, in the eyes of the law, if one man is two persons, the natural or the legal, okay, which one can I speak as, or does it matter -- am I have the liberty to speak the truth and qualify it so I can speak to everything? Because what it -- they have commingled a lot of stuff, and for me to properly address it, I'm going to have to be able to speak to everything to properly address it.
Again, I feel like I'm being railroaded because I'm asking for clear answers. I came here with a full intention on defending my -- my rights and -- and not having things being converted into something they're not, and I don't know how to do that if nobody's going to give me a straight answer. I thought Crown had a duty -- I read their web page and they talk about honour and integrity, and now I'm been led one thing -- and for me to speak to everything, I'm going to need to be able to speak to it from my starting point of my existence.
I didn't make it up. Sir John Salmond I think is a highly respected man. The Supreme Court relies on him. I didn't make it up that one man's two persons in the eyes of the law. And so from that perspective, I need -- that's why I tried to be as honourable and as open in the development of this, so that I could speak the truth and the whole truth from the proper perspective, so it does not get misconstrued or mislabelled or presumed to be something it's not. And that's what I need to know. If I make the decision and I go in that box, which person, in the eyes of the law am I?
THE COURT: You are Mr. Porisky.
THE ACCUSED PORISKY: Am I Russell Anthony Porisky in my inherent personality as a natural person, or am I a sovereign-granted personality?
THE COURT: You're Russell Porisky.
THE ACCUSED PORISKY: That's fairly misleading because that's not clear enough for me, Your Honour. ....
THE COURT: ... Let's assume you get into the stand... and the Crown asks you, "What did you have for breakfast today?" Would it make a difference as to what capacity you were in?
THE ACCUSED PORISKY: For me, it would, Your Honour, yes.
Priceless. The Court concludes, as it really must, that
"Mr. Porisky's theory not only does not bear any legal logic but it also fails to accord with common sense. It is a failed attempt at word magic and has no validity."
Tax protestors and dupes thereof, you've been duly warned.In a similar case, a Manitoba chiropractor and tax protestor named Rosalie Chobotar was recently sentenced to six months in jail plus a fine of $162,513 for failing to pay her taxes from 2002 to 2007--she signed all her returns with "to the best of my knowledge without understanding." That's rich! And so, apparently, was she. Chobotar seems to have been a "zero income" return filer-someone who filed annually but simply put zero on all of the lines, which she may have learned through the infamous work of Irwin Schiff. His fraud on the public still lives on at paynoincometax.com even though the man himself is out of commission until 2016. I do not advise calling the toll-free number for more information. Note that both Porinsky and Chobotar defended themselves in court. You know what they say about the clients of lawyers who defend themselves. Chobotar actually absconded, apparently by physically leaving the court mid-trial, saying the court or Revenue Canada or both had no jurisdiction over her. Again, good theater! But bad outcome. Lawyers who don't stick around to present their case don't usually win.* Americans have until this Tuesday to file but north of the border they have until April 30.
Discover the features and benefits of LexisNexis® Tax Center
For quality Tax & Accounting research resources, visit the LexisNexis® Store
For more information about LexisNexis products and solutions connect with us through our corporate site.