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Tax alert: Don't buy into illegal tax protester schemes
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) warns all Canadians to beware of individuals that try to convince you that Canadians do not have to pay tax on the income they earn. These individuals, also known as tax protesters, not only fail to report their own earnings, but they also conspire, counsel, and promote these tax schemes.
Natural vs Legal Person
One of the most common false arguments tax protesters use is the natural vs. legal person argument, in which they treat themselves as two separate people for income tax purposes. They define the natural person as the individual that performs the labour required to earn income, and the legal person as the legal entity that the federal government creates through the issuance and use of the social insurance number (SIN). Tax protesters allege that the legal person has to file an income tax and benefit return, and that income received belongs to the natural person and is therefore not subject to Canadian income tax.
Canadian courts have repeatedly and consistently rejected all arguments made in these tax protester schemes.
For those involved in tax protester schemes, the CRA will reassess income tax and interest, and charge penalties. In some cases these individuals will be prosecuted for tax evasion. If convicted, they could face significant fines and possibly jail time.
For example, the courts fined an Ontario tax protester approximately $522,000, which represented 150% of the federal taxes evaded. In addition, the individual was given a one year conditional sentence, and was ordered to pay the fine imposed prior to the expiry of the conditional sentence; ordered to remain in Ontario and surrender his passport; and ordered to perform 180 hours of community service.
Correcting your tax affairs
Individuals who would like to correct their tax affairs can voluntarily come forward, and they may not be penalized or prosecuted if they make a valid disclosure before they become aware of any compliance action being taken by the CRA against them. These individuals may only have to pay the taxes owing, plus interest. More information on the Voluntary Disclosures Program can be found on the CRA Web site at www.cra.gc.ca/voluntarydisclosures.
The CRA reminds Canadians that, when it comes to their tax affairs, they should get independent advice from a reputable professional.
More information on tax protester schemes is available at www.cra.gc.ca/alert under Tax Protesters.