North Van tax ‘educator’ loses appeal

A North Vancouver man convicted of teaching and practising a debunked method of sidestepping income tax had his bid to avoid prison time rejected in the B.C. Court of Appeal recently.

Michael Spencer Millar was sentenced to two and a half years in jail in 2017 for several tax-related charges including evading paying income tax between December 31, 2003 and June 16, 2009. He was also convicted of not paying the Goods and Services Tax as well as counselling people to commit fraud. Millar worked as an educator for the Paradigm Education Group, a business that instructed people across Canada on a baseless method to structure their affairs to avoid paying taxes.

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In making his appeal the B.C.’s highest court, Millar took issue with “the authority of the [Canada Revenue Agency] to investigate this case, the prosecutorial authority of the federal crown, the validity of the charging documents, and the jurisdiction of the court,” wrote Justice Gregory Fitch in his reasons for judgment.

There is “no merit” to those arguments, Fitch wrote.

Millar also asserted the trial judge engaged in abusive conduct by having him handcuffed for a brief period during the trial. The judge had Millar handcuffed “in response to his persistent interruptive behaviour,” Fitch wrote.

“While the appellant is entitled to adhere to his mistaken beliefs, he was not entitled to ignore the judge’s directions,” Fitch wrote. “In my view, it was well within the authority of the judge to order that the appellant be restrained.”

Fitch also addressed Millar’s contention that he was not tried within a reasonable time.

While a summons for Millar was issued in April 2012, the police did not find him until June 2013.

Millar, after seeking an adjournment to find a lawyer in 2013, later advised the court he was planning to contact legal aid. He eventually refused to enter a plea, saying: “I am unable to plead into a fiction.”

A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf.

In January 2015, the Crown suggested the preliminary inquiry could be finished in three days. Millar, “sought to have the dates cancelled, stating he would ‘rather not continue at all,’” Fitch wrote.

In a pre-trial conference, Millar sought resolution of “two largely nonsensical ‘applications,’” including one styled as a “Bill of Exceptions.”

“[Millar’s] refusal to engage in the process in a timely fashion became a regular feature of the litigation,” Fitch wrote.

Millar subscribed to the view that Canada’s Income Tax Act only applies to “artificial persons” who agree to be taxpayers, whereas as a natural or “private person” he wasn’t required to pay income tax. That position has consistently been rejected by trial courts, “and was rejected by the trial judge,” Fitch wrote. A panel of three justices unanimously rejected Millar’s appeal.

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