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

Kiera Bourque’s sentence ‘an embarrassment’: family of deceased Penticton teen

Bourque was sentenced to one year in prison for her role in the 2017 death of Devon Blackmore

COLUMN: COVID-19 statistics are the stories of people

This pandemic is ultimately about people, not just about numbers

How to not have your bike stolen in Penticton

Police are considering new initiatives like ‘bait bikes’

Kiera Bourque sentenced to one year in jail for death of Penticton’s Devon Blackmore

Kiera Bourque, 24, was sentenced for manslaughter in the 2017 death of Penticton’s Devon Blackmore

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Mounties impound car of impaired driver celebrating birthday in North Vancouver

RCMP say the person was driving with their headlights off

Transgender B.C. brothers debut fantasy novel as author duo Vincent Hunter

‘Transgender people are being misrepresented in popular fiction and media, and we aim to change that’

Kelowna RCMP seize drugs, weapons from downtown residence

Search warrant was in relation to an active criminal investigation into suspected drug trafficking

‘Won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving:’ Trudeau says COVID-19 2nd wave underway

In all, COVID-19 has killed about 9,250 people in Canada

EDITORIAL: Clearing the smoke

Wildfires have resulted in heavy smoke and poor air quality

Kelowna man’s child porn collection ‘traversed the spectrum of depravity,’ court hears

Terry Krock was caught in possession of between 7,000 and 12,000 child porn files

COVID-19 exposure at Merritt pub

The exposure happened on Sept. 19 at the pub of the Coldwater Hotel

UPDATE: Person safely pulled from Vernon creek culvert

First responders from multiple agencies assist in getting individual out of the creek

Most Read