Taxpayer wilfully blind in placing absolute trust in unscrupulous tax preparer

Federal appeal | Tax | Income tax | Administration and enforcement

Taxpayer’s appeal from reassessments denying business loss and imposing gross negligence penalty was dismissed, with Tax Court judge finding that taxpayer was wilfully blind in placing absolute trust in unscrupulous tax preparer. Taxpayer appealed. Appeal dismissed. Self-represented taxpayer argued that trial was conducted in biased manner and Tax Court judge erred in dismissing argument based on s. 15(1) of Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In circumstances of taxpayer’s affidavit using boilerplate material generated by tax preparer, his inability to elaborate on affidavit’s references to “wages” or to specify what enumerated ground of discrimination he was relying on, and of failure to give notice of Charter challenge, it was not surprising that Tax Court judge did not deal with Charter argument at any length. There was no doubt that s. 15(1) argument had no merit as asserted discrimination was not based on any enumerated or analogous ground. Taxpayer’s new argument based on s. 6(2) of Charter would not be dealt with, as it was not raised before Tax Court judge or developed in his memorandum. Tax Court judge explained to taxpayer that there was no right to discovery under informal procedure and concluded that he had not been diligent in seeking adjournment for retaining counsel or seeking relevant advice even from court website. Order relating to discovery schedule as if taxpayer was proceeding through general procedure was issued in error arising from many appeals involving tax preparer’s clients, as he had instead elected to proceed under informal procedure. It was not unfair for Tax Court judge to proceed without giving taxpayer right to discover documents that were mostly evidencing material facts listed in notice of appeal. Tax Court judge did not treat taxpayer unfairly or make reviewable error in denying adjournment request. Tax Court judge used stronger language that was appropriate in dealing with questioning about affidavit but later clarified that what was meant was that affidavit’s arguments were nonsensical. Language in itself was not sufficient, in particular circumstances of this case and taxpayer’s arguments, to support conclusion of reasonable apprehension of bias.

Grier v. Canada (2017), 2017 CarswellNat 2789, 2017 FCA 129, John Gauthier J.A., Yves de Montigny J.A., and J. Woods J.A. (F.C.A.).

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