An interesting case I have followed for the last while has finally ended at the Supreme Court of Canada. Nelson Meikle doesn’t like to pay taxes. While none of us do, Mr. Meikle decided that he was not going to pay taxes at all. So, from 1994 to 1999, he simply did not file any tax returns. In 2000, he received a notice from the Canada Revenue Agency demanding that he file his tax returns. Mr. Meikle’s response was to be a smart-alec. He filed his tax returns, but put “N/A” for almost all entries on the forms. The reason for doing this? Mr. Meikle claimed that the Canadian federal government lacked authority to tax its citizens. Needless to say, Revenue Canada was not amused.
Mr. Meikle, however, pursued his views and they ultimately ended up being aired before the British Columbia courts after Mr. Meikle had been criminally charged on six counts. Not surprisingly, Mr. Meikle wasn’t warmly received by the courts. The trial judge sentenced Mr. Meikle to pay a total of $4,500 and imposed a prison sentence of 3 months. The B.C. Court of Appeal set aside the jail time, but increased the amount of the fines to $2,500 per count (being $18,000 in total fines). Today, the Supreme Court dismissed Mr. Meikle’s application for leave to appeal.
If there are only two things that are guaranteed in life – death and taxes – and it’s a truism that you cannot cheat death, it appears that it’s also a truism that you cannot cheat the taxman either. I suppose we can give Mr. Meikle credit for sticking to his beliefs – no matter how quixotic they may be. Unfortunately for him, that credit cannot be used to reduce his tax liability.