British Columbia

B.C. anti-tax crusader sentenced to 5½ years

A B.C. anti-tax crusader, who tax authorities say counselled people to evade millions of dollars in income tax, has been sentenced to 5½ years in prison and fined $259,482.

Russell Porisky taught 'natural person' theory as basis for not paying income tax

Russell Porisky of Chilliwack, B.C. was sentenced to five-and-half years in prison for tax evasion and counselling others to evade taxes.

A B.C. anti-tax crusader, who tax authorities say counselled people to be tax cheats has been sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison and fined $259,482, according to the Canada Revenue Agency.

Russell Porisky of Chilliwack was sentenced July 29 in B.C. Supreme Court, the CRA said in a news release. It was the second trial for Porisky and his common-law spouse, Elaine Gould, who were first tried on tax charges in 2012.

The two were found guilty at their first trial, but the pair appealed, arguing that they should have been tried by a jury, rather than by judge alone.

In 2014, the B.C. Court of Appeal ordered a new trial in the case, his former lawyer Martin Peters said.

In July, Porisky was convicted of two counts of tax evasion and one count of counselling others to evade taxes, the CRA statement said.

Gould was sentenced to one day in jail after she received six months' credit for time previously served. She was also fined $38,241 for one count of tax evasion.

Taught 'natural person' theory

Porisky advocated a theory that centred around what he described as a "natural person." He argued the government's legal definition of a person — someone who votes, owns property, receives benefits and pays taxes — is artificial, and by merely declaring themselves "natural" people, his followers could avoid paying their taxes.

Prosecutors argued during the trial that Porisky, through his group Paradigm, taught more than 800 people at paid seminars about his "natural person" theory.

Porisky told his followers that his research of the law showed the average Canadian didn't have to pay taxes because each working Canadian is being taxed as an "artificial person," a category created by government.

According to Porisky, if one declares oneself a "natural person," no taxes need to be paid. He practised what he preached.

The CRA said Porisky and Gould failed to report total income of $1.4 million between 2004 and 2007 and evaded $231,574 in federal income tax. As well, Porisky failed to collect and remit $66,149 in GST between 2004 and 2008.

With files from the Canadian Press