A man who argued that he is not a "person" under the Income Tax Act has been convicted of four offences related failing to file returns.
Steven James Merrill tried to argue that the Canada Revenue Agency had no legal authority to demand that he complete income-tax forms for 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017.
In addition, Merrill claimed that the CRA's notices of requirement were not a legally binding demand. Rather, he considered them a "contract offer" that he could decline.
That's not all. He also insisted that the CRA served the notices of requirement on the wrong person.
That's because several years earlier, a commissioner of the CRA once wrote to a person named "Steve Merrill", whereas the notices were sent to "Steven James Merrill".
And Merrill claimed that he was not the accused, but rather an "agent for the accused". This was the case even though his given name at birth was Steven James Merrill.
Judge Robin Smith dismissed these arguments, describing the claims about the names as a "straw man" logic that "defies any rational response".
That was because the social insurance number used in the notice of requirement matched the name of Steven James Merrill.
"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... There is no air of reality to these arguments," Smith added.
Moreover, the judge said that a notice of requirement from the CRA is not a contract offer.
"It is no contract at all—it is a demand from an authorized government agency tasked with and having authority to make such demands," Smith wrote.
The notice stated that under subsection 239(1) of the Income Tax Act, a person who fails to comply with the notice is liable to a fine of between $1,000 and $25,000 and imprisonment of up to one year.
Merrill also didn't file a tax return by a 2019 deadline. According to the judge, Merrill "wrongly claimed that the Information was defective because it does not include a seal, a flag, a coat of arms, or any official insignia or logo that would confirm its origin".
"Mr. Merrill claims that beginning in the summer of 2014, certain collection agents of the Canada Revenue Agency conspired against him unfairly," Smith wrote. "He believes the conspiracy continued through 2019, when Mr. [Christopher] Pagett served the Notices of Requirement. The credible evidence simply does not reflect any such conspiracy and is not worthy of any further analysis, given there is no air of reality to the claim."
Smith did not pronounce a sentence on Merrill in the written decision that's on the Provincial Court of British Columbia website.