Okay, so you try refusing to pay your taxes. You'll soon find out what's legal and not legal. Let us know what happens to you.
Published: Tuesday, June 27, 2006
A Superior Court jury ruled late Monday that a Windsor optometrist was not guilty of tax evasion when he refused to pay nearly $350,000 in income taxes over five years.
Dr. Jack Klundert hugged his lawyer, Doug Christie of British Columbia, and wiped tears from his face and glasses after the jury was discharged. He smiled faintly at his wife, who sat in the courtroom and took notes.
Superior Court Justice Joseph Quinn thanked the jury for tackling "the complex issue.
"These decisions are not easy to make," he said.
Klundert, 53, was standing a second trial for tax evasion under the Income Tax Act. He failed to pay $348,231 in taxes on income estimated at $1.5 million between 1993 and 1998.
Klundert was found guilty of making a false statement on a tax return in 2002 and fined $80,000.
He was also ordered to enrol in a constitutional law course as part of his two-year probation.
But the Court of Appeal found fault with Superior Court of Justice Steve Rogin's instructions to the jury and Klundert took his protest against Revenue Canada to court again.
He told the jury he wrote zero income on his tax forms because he believed the federal government had no constitutional right to pursue him. He said disclosing his earnings to the government would be like "sitting down with thieves" and telling them where his valuables are kept.
Klundert opened bank accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, where he funnelled cash from his business, according to court evidence.
"He ignored our laws," federal prosecutor Michael Gordner told the jury in his closing arguments. "You cannot say, 'The law does not apply to me.' That's not the way it works. It's not a legal defence to say 'I did it to protest.'
Gordner told the court Klundert is "the definition of tax evasion."
But Christie told the jury not to convict Klundert on the basis of any outstanding funds he owes the government.
"They will get their money, so don't worry about that," he said. Klundert told the court he has already paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties to Revenue Canada for his actions.
Christie described his client as "a courageous man of integrity" for his lengthy battle against Revenue Canada.
"Some will argue he is not, but I say he is," he said.
After the verdict, Christie said he was "grateful to God" Klundert's three-week trial has come to an end, but expressed some concern about the possibility of another appeal.
"I hope it's over for good," he said outside the courtroom. "(The Crown) might appeal, but there really isn't much to argue after this decision."
Christie said Klundert was "relieved" and "grateful" to be discharged.
"He's been fighting for this for 10 years. It's been a long, drawn-out battle."
Gordner refused to comment on the verdict or the possibility of an appeal.
"The jury has spoken and I respect their decision," he said.