A New Denver man has been fined $5,002 and given one year to file outstanding income tax returns to the federal government.
Trevor Holsworth was found guilty in Nakusp court on July 15 of seven counts of not filing his personal or business income tax returns between 2014 and 2017.
And Provincial Court Judge Craig Sicotte never gave Holsworth the chance to delve into his long-standing fight with the justice system, which he claims is arbitrary and has denied him his rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The court heard that Holsworth’s case had been assigned to a CRA tax collector in 2018, after he had not filed several years of tax returns for himself or his business, Kootenay Experience. The collector, Matthew Hopkins, was the only Crown witness in the case.
Hopkins testified he had visited New Denver and used Canada Post to contact Holsworth, who had responded and talked to him about the case.
Holsworth told the judge he had not felt threatened by the CRA employee or coerced into discussing the situation with him.
Holsworth, who had pleaded not guilty to the charges and represented himself in court, admitted to the court he had not filed the tax returns for either himself or his business in that period.
But he also said he had no money to pay an accountant to do his corporate or personal taxes during that period, and the company had no money either.
He said between child support payments (which resulted in the loss of his drivers’ licence and passport), and trauma from his ongoing constitutional fight with the legal system, he had not been able to work in years.
“I haven’t the capacity to pay anything,” he told Judge Sicotte.
Not a constitutional issue
Holsworth came to the court prepared to explain to the judge his long-standing battle with the legal system. His complaint stems back to testimony given in a divorce proceeding 14 years ago, when he claims a lawyer fabricated part of a court order. Holsworth has taken that complaint up the ladder – first to the BC Law Society, then the BC Ombudsman, to the Canadian Judicial Council, the RCMP, the Attorney General of Canada and the Prime Minister’s office. Turned down at every station, he’s now taken his case to the United Nations.
He claims the fact judges have absolute discretion to accept or reject evidence denies him a fundamental right to justice, and he feels his security and safety as a citizen is also threatened as a result.
“I don’t feel I have any rights,” he told Sicotte. “I am going to have to go to every court, forever, and it is abusive.
“I just ask for your help,” he said. “I have nowhere to turn.”
While expressing sympathy for Holsworth’s plight, Justice Sicotte wouldn’t allow discussion of his long-standing complaint to distract the court from the business at hand. He also rejected Holsworth’s attempt to argue the Income Tax Act was unconstitutional, saying that issue had been tried and rejected in multiple cases over the years.
The Income Tax Act sets out a minimum fine of $1,000 for every non-filing of income taxes, meaning Holsworth could have faced upwards of $7,000 in fines. But noting he had filed returns for 2014 and 2015 since the charges had been laid, Crown counsel Doug Wilson sought leniency, saying the Crown would be satisfied with a $1 fine for both those years.
Sicotte agreed, and fined Holsworth a total of $5,002 dollars – $1,000 each for the five outstanding returns, and two $1 fines. Unusually, he also gave Holsworth five years to pay the fine off, until 2026. And instead of the usual 90 days, he gave the defendant a full year to finish filing his other returns.
“File your tax returns,” he advised Holsworth during sentencing. “You’re not required to file a tax return prepared by an accountant, that are 100% accurate…. You’ve probably seen things where people file incomplete tax returns and it’s followed by 1,000 demands for documentation and amendments and all the rest of it. But file your tax return, sir. Get the ball rolling.”
Sicotte also allowed Holsworth to include his brief on the constitutional challenge to the Income Tax Act as part of the documents on this case, should he wish to follow up on the matter on appeal.
“I was pretty happy with my presentation and the judge allowing my freedom of speech,” Holsworth told the Valley Voice after the meeting. “I didn't cover everything that I could say but as Judge Sicotte pointed out, and I knew beforehand, there wasn't much that he could do, without directly admitting the problems that my situation presents for the administration of justice and the administration of government.”
Holsworth says he is not sure what his next steps will be.
John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice