A Chilliwack man's "hare-brained" tax evasion scheme has left an Ottawa dentist and his wife in personal and professional ruin.
Clarke and Mary Margaret Webster believed that taxes were unconstitutional and that the federal government created a parallel legal system based on the Hollywood movie The Matrix that allowed them to opt out from paying them.
On Monday, those beliefs landed the couple on house arrest, facing a $342,407 tax bill that will likely cost them their home.
Clarke Webster, a 63-year-old Ottawa dentist and grandfather, admitted to failing to declare income from his dental practice over a six-year period beginning in 2004, the same year he became a follower of Chilliwack-resident Russ Porisky, and his Paradigm tax evasion scheme.
His wife failed to declare income from her position as his office manager over a similar, five-year period.
Both renounced their beliefs Monday in the "spurious" Paradigm scheme - declaring it preposterous, contemptuous of the rule of law and aimed solely at evading taxes - after pleading guilty to tax evasion.
Porisky was the brains behind Paradigm Education Group, which taught followers that taxes are unconstitutional and that taxing a human being's labour is a confiscation of property and, therefore, against the Canadian Bill of Rights.
Through books, pamphlets, CDs, seminars and the Internet, the group taught that the federal government set up a parallel legal system in order to overcome the constitutional problems with taxation. Much like in the movie The Matrix, citizens "awaken" to the fact that this parallel taxation system was created and learn how to withdraw from it and declare no tax owing.
Court heard the Websters paid more than $31,200 to "educator" Lee Williams to learn how to succeed in the scheme.
The money paid to Williams was roughly seven to 10 per cent of what they "saved" by not filing taxes. Williams then passed a percentage on to Porisky, who has already been sentenced to four years in prison. Porisky is appealing both his sentence and his conviction.
Williams is currently serving a five-year prison sentence. His wife, Ottawa-area dentist Tanya Kovaluk, received 2½ years after herself evading nearly a million dollars in taxes while aiding Williams.
The Websters were handed the minimum fine, equal to the amount of tax they refused to pay. Clarke Webster was fined $273, 811; Mary Margaret Webster received a $78,596 fine.
Clarke Webster received a one-year conditional sentence and Mary Margaret received six months. Half will be spent under house arrest. The conditional sentences will be followed by 27 months' probation.