31 Oct 2010

Canadian polygamist fights in tax court - wants tax payers to fund polygamy defence

The Globe and Mail - Canada June 9, 2009

Blackmore takes battle to tax court

by Robert Matas

Vancouver — Winston Blackmore, who has indicated he may ask for public financing to fight a controversial polygamy charge against him, earned just under $2-million over five years earlier this decade, federal lawyers allege in documents filed in the Tax Court of Canada.

Mr. Blackmore reported taxable income of $116,445, the documents show.

However, the federal tax department says Mr. Blackmore received employment income, benefits and payments as a shareholder of a company named J.R. Blackmore totalling $1.84 million in the years 2000 to 2004. The company's business included construction, logging, farming and the manufacturing and sale of lumber posts.

The proceedings in tax court may have an impact on Mr. Blackmore's efforts to have the taxpayer pay for his defence against the criminal charge of polygamy, David Everett, one of the federal counsel involved in the tax case, said yesterday in an interview. But it's too soon in the legal process to know what will happen, he added.

“It's the early stages in litigation,” Mr. Everett said. The federal tax lawyers and Mr. Blackmore's legal counsel are setting dates to exchange documents and conduct preliminary questioning of witnesses. It could be more than a year before the tax case comes before a judge in court, he said.

David Davies, Mr. Blackmore's lawyer, said he was not at liberty to comment on the case without instructions from Mr. Blackmore.

Mr. Blackmore is the former bishop of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a religious community of about 1,000 people in southeastern B.C. called Bountiful that encourages polygamy as an article of faith. Mr. Blackmore and another community member, Jim Oler, were charged in January with being in polygamous relationships, contrary to the Criminal Code. They are the first Canadians to be charged with polygamy since the adoption of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects freedom of religion.

Last month, Mr. Blackmore initiated a process to ask the court to throw out the polygamy charges on the grounds they were an abuse of process, arbitrary, unfair and involved either actual or a perception of political interference. He intends to ask the government to pay his legal fees if the court decides his trial should go ahead, documents filed in B.C. Supreme Court show.

His income earlier this decade was set out in documents filed in the Tax Court of Canada as part of his appeal of tax assessments over five years. Mr. Blackmore was president and chief executive officer of J.R. Blackmore and managed all aspects of the company's business, the federal government states in documents filed in court. Mr. Blackmore also had undivided interest in properties in B.C., Alberta, and Idaho.

In adding up Mr. Blackmore's income and benefits, the federal government identifies numerous expenses that tax officials say were for personal benefit or the benefit of his polygamous community, and not for business reasons. The list of items include payments for rental housing and for hockey game tickets, expenses related to the use of a Cessna aircraft and paying off personal credit cards.

The federal case disputes monthly payments to Joseph Blackmore allegedly for equipment rental expenses and vehicle insurance. At the time, Joseph Blackmore was a student at the University of Calgary and living in Calgary. “Joseph did not transport supplies or goods for the Company during its 2001 and 2002 taxation years; the payments to Joseph were not incurred by the Company for the purpose of earning income from a business or property,” the federal government states. The tax department says the payments to Joseph were paid out of shareholder benefits provided by the company to Winston Blackmore.

The tax department also challenges the payment of $40,953.87 in 2003 to Ruth Lane, who is identified in the court document as Mr. Blackmore's spouse. A woman named Ruth Ann Lane is one of 19 woman allegedly in a polygamous relationship with Mr. Blackmore. “Lane did not perform any work for the company during the 2003 taxation year,” the federal government states. The amount paid to Ms. Lane was “unreported employment remuneration” for Mr. Blackmore, the government says.

Mr. Blackmore, in documents submitted to court, says the company was a business agency of Bountiful and all members hold or use property as trustee for the church and for Bountiful. “All the members of the Congregation live and work together in Bountiful. All members of the Congregation devote their working lives to the activities of the Congregation,” he states.

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1 comment:

  1. Saskatchewan Canada family court judges and their Saskatchewan legislatation allows multiple spouses.
    The federal government does not step in to stop this. Polygamy is legal in Saskatchewan Canada. The federal governement os happy to have privincial law supercede its federal criminal code law.