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

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

Marylou Jensen. (Contributed)
Kelowna RCMP searching for missing senior

Marylou Jensen left her Grenfell Road home on foot at 5 p.m.

In a feature article published April 10, 2021 in The Times of London, ‘headlined British Columbia has what it takes to rival Napa Valley,’ the valley is praised extensively for its natural beauty and wine. (File photo)
From the U.K. with love: Okanagan wine, scenery receives international praise

The Times of London newspaper recently featured the valley in a wine and travel piece

FILE — In this March 31, 2021 file photo, a nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaxmobile, at the Uniondale Hempstead Senior Center, in Uniondale, N.Y. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating clots in six women in the days after vaccination, in combination with reduced platelet counts. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
72 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases in the region to 9,666 since the pandemic began

Peachland mayor Cindy Fortin is encouraging those who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine to get their shot. (Mayor Cindy Fortin - Facebook)
Peachland mayor declines early vaccination offer

Mayor Cindy Fortin said she wants seniors, immunocompromised individuals to get the shot first

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health previously issued a ticket to Flow Academy in February for non-compliance with public health orders

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

A dumpster was on fire behind a residential complex in downtown Penticton Tuesday afternoon. (Brennan Phillips Western News)
Dumpster fire extinguished in downtown Penticton

There has been a string of dumpster fires lately

Skogie’s Express Tunnel Wash on Anderson Way in Vernon. (Submitted photo)
Lawsuit dismissed after vehicle damaged while inside Okanagan car wash

Civil Resolution Tribunal dismisses driver’s claim following a collision inside Skogie’s car wash in Vernon

The future of the Eagle Pass Lookout cabin is being discussed. (File photo)
Options presented for future of former Eagle Pass fire lookout in Shuswap

Stakeholders met in 2020 to discuss the restoration, or possible removal of the cabin

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Conservation officers caught three men over fishing bull trout in Kinbasket Lake. (Facebook)
B.C. men fined $1.7K for overfishing near Revelstoke, Golden

The seized fish were donated to the Golden Food Bank

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Feb. 23, 2021. (Kamloops This Week photo)
Clothing that ‘detracts from learning process’ removed from SD73 student dress code

Policy change underway after student in knee-length dress, long-sleeve turtleneck sent home

A shop up on Grand Oro Road near Twin Lakes burned down on Monday. (Facebook)
Fire rips through shop in small South Okanagan town

The building was destroyed despite community efforts to fight the fire

Most Read