A Kelowna man has been convicted after failing to file tax returns between 2014 and 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)

Kelowna man convicted of not paying taxes after turbulent trial

Man claims he doesn’t meet the definition of a ‘person’ under the federal Income Tax Act

A Kelowna man who claimed he doesn’t meet the definition of a “person” under the federal Income Tax Act has been convicted of failing to file tax returns over four consecutive years.

Self-represented Steven James Merrill fought the charges in Kelowna courts during a two-day trial earlier this summer. According to court documents, that trial saw Judge Robin Smith reject various “twisted” claims made by Merrill.

A Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) officer served Merrill a notice of requirement on January 30, 2019, demanding he file his 2014 through 2017 tax returns by May 1, 2019.

Merrill believed that if he did not accept the documents, then he was not served. This was not the case and the CRA agent left the documents at Merrill’s feet. Still, Merrill claimed the documents were invalid, saying they were served upon “Steven James Merrill” and not “Steve Merrill” as the CRA had addressed him in past correspondence.

“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,” said Judge Smith.

“There is no air of reality to these arguments. Mr. Merrill, in his personal capacity, was required to respond to the notices of requirement.”

But Merrill claimed he had no legal obligation to respond to the notices until the CRA officer provided him a copy of their “Oath of Allegiance to Her Majesty,” in order to validate their position as a government official — a position which was also rejected by the judge. He later maintained that the notice was 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 ruled.

Court proceedings against Merrill began after he failed to meet the CRA’s deadline.

But, he again took issue when his court summons did not include a seal, a flag, a coat of arms, or any official insignia or logo that would confirm its origin. As such, he called the summons “defective.” The judge deemed the order valid in his ruling.

Merrill believed the court did not have jurisdiction to hear this matter unless the presiding judge confirmed his oath of allegiance to Her Majesty.

“While I had no legal obligation to do so given the presumption of regularity when Mr. Merrill appeared in open court before me, I chose to verbally confirm to Mr. Merrill that I have in fact made such an oath and I would deal with his matter fairly,” Judge Smith said.

After this, Merrill still refused to enter a plea, arguing the B.C. Provincial Court did not have jurisdiction over the matter — which it does. He also accused the CRA of conspiring against him.

“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,” Judge Smith said.

READ MORE: Accused in Kelowna’s 2018 Canada Day killing granted bail more than 1.5 years later

READ MORE: Surrey man found guilty in West Kelowna killing of common-law spouse

Smith called Merrill’s actions throughout the court process “disruptive,” citing an incident during the trial in which Merrill attempted to walk out of the courtroom.

As Merrill approached the exit door, the following conversation occurred between him and the judge:

Judge Smith: If you leave, the sheriffs are just going to arrest you sir.

Mr. Merrill: For what?

Judge Smith: If you want to find out, just try leaving and see what happens. Don’t leave. (Mr. Merrill continued walking out).

Judge Smith: Don’t leave.

Mr. Merrill: I am not on the ship.

Judge Smith: Don’t walk out. (Mr. Merrill continued walking totally outside the door) Sheriffs, will you please put him into custody. That is what he chooses and I am not going to put up with this nonsense.

Sheriffs: (bring Mr. Merrill back into the courtroom)

Mr. Merrill: What have I done?

Judge Smith: You are not going to stop this trial from happening.

Mr. Merrill: Then I will sit here.

Judge Smith: Sit….

Mr. Merrill: Why am I being detained?

Judge Smith: You are having a trial and you just—-

Mr. Merrill: You are having a trial.

Judge Smith: Sir, you may not like the way this is proceeding—I am trying to be as calm as I can, but you are very disruptive and in the end, I am the one in control here and not you…you need to understand that you are not stopping this process from happening.

Mr. Merrill: I wasn’t planning to stop it from happening.

Judge Smith: When you walked out, that stopped it.

Mr. Merrill: How?

Judge Smith: You are the accused.

Mr. Merrill: No I am not, I am agent for the accused.

Judge Smith: Because of your denial in that regard and your disruptive behaviour, that is exactly why you now find yourself in custody.

Smith found Merrill guilty of all four charges he faced.

“In the simplest of terms, Mr. Merrill refused to timely file his personal tax returns when they were due for the tax years 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017.”

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com


@michaelrdrguez
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Court

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ex-Kelowna city councillor reappointed to ALC

Gerry Zimmermann accepts another two year term to Agricultural Land Commission.

Two hurt in reported stabbing in Enderby

Police respond to reports of stabbing to find two men in similar condition near Canyon Road

Mandatory masks part of SilverStar’s winter plan

SilverStar starts season late to prepare for pandemic protocols

Creative thinkers wanted for North Okanagan hackathon

Talent-themed hackathon will take place at the VIEW in Vernon Oct. 29

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

Interior Health reports four new cases of COVID-19

First hospitalization since mid-August announced

Rail traffic starts moving after 60-car derailment near Hope

Clean up effort ongoing after 60 cars carrying potash crashed along a rail bridge

Spoon-wielding man draws police presence in Penticton

Police say no one was harmed during the incident

B.C.’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan: Top 5 things you need to know

Jobs training, tax incentives for employers to hire staff and more

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to B.C. Legislature

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

Most Read