A Kelowna man who tried to claim he is not a “person” under Canada’s Income Tax Act has been jailed for 90-days and fined $12,000 after being convicted of failing to file four years’ worth of tax returns.
The Canada Revenue Agency has confirmed Steven James Merrill was sentenced on Aug. 7 after being found guilty by a judge on Aug. 4 following a bumpy trial.
This was Merril’s second conviction for failing to comply with a CRA’s notice of requirement for not filing taxes. In 2013, Merrill was fined $4,000 for failing to file his 2006 to 2009 personal tax returns.
During a two-day trial earlier this summer, he tried to fight the charges on several fronts.
He was first served by a CRA agent with a Notice of Requirement on Jan. 30, 2019, ordering him to file his tax returns for 2014-2017 by May 1, 2019.
From the outset, Merrill refused to accept the documents, forcing the CRA agent to leave them at Merrill’s feet. He also claimed the documents were invalid because they were served to Steven James Merrill, not “Steve Merrill,” the name the CRA had used while writing to him in the past.
“Furthermore, I reject the twisted definition of 'individual' used by Mr. Merrill, where he advances that only a corporation and not an individual person has an obligation under the Income Tax Act to respond to Notices of Requirement,” Judge Robin Smith ruled.
"There is no air of reality to these arguments. Mr. Merrill, in his personal capacity, was required to respond to the Notices of Requirement.”
Merrill formerly owned Sun City Silver and Gold Exchange on Bernard Ave. in Kelowna.
The decision also says Merrill demanded a certified copy of the CRA agent's “Oath of Allegiance to Her Majesty,” and would later maintain that the CRA’s written notice was a contract offer.
During the trial, Merrill was disruptive, with one such exchange with the judge outlined in the court documents that can be read here.
Judge Robin Smith would go on to find Merrill guilty on all four counts before sentencing him later in the week.