Sunday, April 16, 2006

Tax Season

Look, I'm a sailor. I know about giving orders and having them obeyed. The navy works because orders are given and obeyed, and if they are not, the offender is subject to Canadian military law. They are charged with Disobedience of a Lawful Command. In the investigation before the charge is brought to court the investigator is charged with discovering the details surrounding the event.

  • was the giver of the order legally allowed to give that order?
  • was it a lawful order?
  • was the recipient of the order able to physically comply with the order?
  • could the recipient reasonably be expected to obey the order?
  • could the recipient understand the order?

That last condition is sort of the crux of my position on obeying the Laws of Canada. I'm no longer an active sailor and no longer enjoy the protections and safeguards afforded me by the Code of Service Discipline as laid down in the Queen's Regulations and Orders. I am a Canadian, vulnerable to provincial, federal, criminal and civil laws, statutes and regulations. I understand why I must pay taxes and I want to do it. I want the government I've elected to spend my taxes on things we've collectively agreed need to be done to make Canada a good place to be. I want to pay the full amount I owe, and that's where things start to get a bit sticky. When I was a sailor, it had to be shown that I could understand the order to comply. If the order was incomprehensible or incoherent, then I could hardly be found guilty of disobedience. That isn't the case with obeying the Tax Law, which is complicated and understood only by people who have made it a life's study - tax lawyers. I may read the tax law and submit my tax return to the very best of my ability to understand the law and my obligations, but if a tax lawyer at Revenue Canada audits my taxes and disagrees with me, then my only recourse is to have my tax lawyer argue and negotiate with their tax lawyer.

Huh? Negotiate? The law shouldn't be a matter of negotiation. I either paid or didn't. Broke the law or complied. Negotiate? Uh-uh. The thing is, if I disagree with my tax assessment and refuse to pay, they just come and take my possessions, destroy my life and move on. If I resist, bottom line, they can kill me. Then they'll take my possessions, sell them and keep the money. You must pay. You must pay even if you don't understand the law and therefore cannot comply. Doesn't sound right to me. If we want people to follow the law, we should write the law so that it can be understood. We should also write contracts so that people can agree to them intelligently. They should be written in standard Canadian English or French.

I want my Prime Minister and Finance Minister and all the members of parliament to read the tax law, arrange their affairs to comply with tax law and annually to submit their own damn tax returns. I want Revenue Canada to audit each one of them, every year while they hold office.

I am not writing this rant because I have trouble with my taxes. Hell no. To have tax trouble, you pretty much have to have money and I don't. No money, no trouble. Besides, I pay an accountant to submit my tax returns. If the feds don't like it, they can talk to my accountant. Maybe they'll negotiate. For help in understanding these laws, offers information on changes, offers a bit of help on filing, a book called Principles of Canadian Income Tax Law is available for only $85.00 for 644 pages. ISBN 0-459-28043-0. Maybe the Library of Canada can help you. Maybe.

I think that until the tax law is written clearly so that those who are subject to it can comply and pay their fair share of taxes, then we Canadians labour under injustice. I suppose what really pisses me off is having my Prime Minister avoid paying his taxes by moving his whole shipping business to a Caribbean tax haven.


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