Judge gavel, scales of justice and law books in court

A pair of so-called “tax protestors” in Quebec have pleaded guilty to fraud charges before the Court of Québec in Laval on Feb. 9 for advising taxpayers to evade $3.2 million worth of federal income tax, the Canada Revenue Agency has announced.

Serge Fréchette, from Montreal, Jean-Pierre Ste-Marie, from St-Jérôme, each received a conditional prison sentence of two years minus a day, two years of probation and 480 hours of community service.

The charges stemmed from the pair’s participation in a scheme to evade taxes by claiming a distinction between “legal” and “natural” people, which is an argument made by “tax protestors” that has repeatedly been rejected by the courts, the CRA says in a news release.

The CRA’s investigation found that between September 2008 and July 2011 Fréchette advised 120 individuals to try to evade $1.77 million in federal income tax by filing returns claiming non-deductible expenses. Ste-Marie acted as a facilitator for Fréchette, helping 95 taxpayers try to evade $1.44 million in federal income tax by claiming false expenses.

Between 2006 and 2017, 75 taxpayers/promoters have been convicted in connection with tax schemes that have generated $7.15 million in fines and a total of 936 months of jail time, the CRA says.