Debbie Anderson outside the Chilliwack Law Courts after her trial wrapped up July 6, 2017. Anderson was convicted with evading taxes and fraud for teaching others that paying income taxes is optional. She was sentenced to 4.5 years jail, a sentenced she is now serving after being arrested Dec. 19, 2019. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Infamous Chilliwack tax cheat ‘educator’ is back in prison

Debbie Anderson was a no-show for 2018 appeal of 4.5-year jail term but was arrested Dec. 19, 2019

The long saga of one of Chilliwack’s infamous tax protesters may finally be over as she was arrested in a parking lot before Christmas and is now serving her 4.5-year prison sentence.

Debbie Arlene Anderson was a follower of well-known ‘natural person’ tax scam educator Russell Porisky who was sentenced to four years in jail and handed fines of just under $260,000 in 2016.

Porisky’s appeal was rejected by the BC Court of Appeal on April 30, 2019.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack ‘natural person’ tax scam teacher loses at BC Court of Appeal

When she was arrested on Dec. 19, Anderson had been on the lam since April 17, 2018 when she didn’t show up to her BC Court of Appeal hearing. Because she didn’t show up, her appeal was denied and the warrant was issued.

She still, however, has the right to appeal her sentence. Anderson appeared in Vancouver court on Dec. 23 where she was in a reverse onus position regarding bail pending that appeal. The hearing was brief, but the judge ordered her detained, which means she is now serving her 4.5-year sentence.

Russell Anthony Porisky was convicted and sentenced in 2016 in connection with a major income tax evasion scheme, and sentenced to four years in jail and fined $260,000. (YouTube)

Anderson was part of Paradigm Education Group under the leadership of Russell Porisky, which taught the tax protester ‘natural person’ theory. She was said to have approximately 100 students who paid seven per cent of their income in order to arrange their affairs to pay no income tax or GST.

In all, Paradigm was said to have 800 students.

The basis of the fraud is the teaching that, essentially, income tax is optional. A natural person is an individual human being, as opposed to a legal or an artificial person. If you declare yourself a natural person and arrange your affairs as such, so goes the scam, you are not a taxable entity.

The fraud has been rejected by courts over and over, yet Anderson has been one of the strongest advocates and refused to accept the ruling against her when it first happened.

During her sentencing hearing she entered no submissions, but tried to re-argue her case. Anderson claimed that Crown’s argument that a person cannot “contract out” of paying taxes made no sense because she never contracted in.

“It would be like Walmart dragging me in to shop there,” she said.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack woman convicted of tax evasion and counselling others

At that point, Justice Neill Brown politely explained how incorporation works, even beyond private business and with levels of government such as Canada.

Anderson earned at least $165,000 over 2005, 2006 and 2007, and declared zero income for the first two years and did not file an income tax return for 2007.

She was convicted on Nov. 3, 2017 of tax evasion and making false statements under the Income Tax Act (ITA), failure to make GST payments under the Excise Tax Act (ETA), and counselling others to commit fraud under the criminal code.

It’s hard to nail down exactly how much Paradigm’s collective fraud cost taxpayers, one estimate is approximately $11.5 million.

In a statement issued a day after the sentence, the CRA warned Canadians to beware of “tax protesters” who try to convince people that income tax is optional.

“Canadian courts have repeatedly and consistently rejected arguments made in these tax protester schemes,” the statement said. “For those involved in tax protester schemes, the CRA will reassess income tax and interest, and charge penalties. In addition, if convicted of tax evasion, the court may fine them up to 200 per cent of the tax evaded and sentence them for up to a five-year jail term. More information on tax protester schemes is available at Canada.ca/tax-alert.”

READ MORE: Follower of Chilliwack-based tax protest scheme off to jail


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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