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APPEALS - Leave to - Summary conviction appeals

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 @ 8:54 AM  

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Application by Robert and Terry Lynn Steinkey for leave to appeal tax-related summary convictions and the related sentences, with bail pending appeal. The applicants attended seminars presented by the Paradigm Education Group that taught widely discredited and nonsensical strategies to avoid payment of income tax. The applicants were warned by Canada Revenue Agency representatives that the Group's teachings were unreliable. The applicants nonetheless failed to declare their full taxable income and were subsequently charged with multiple tax-related offences under the Income Tax Act. A plea bargain resulted in an agreement to drop certain offences in exchange for guilty pleas. The trial judge refused the applicants' request to withdraw the guilty pleas and imposed a conditional sentence that included a significant period of house arrest and a fine equal to the tax due on the unreported income. A summary conviction appeal court upheld the trial judge's decision. The applicants sought leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal with bail pending appeal.

HELD: Application allowed. The applicants were granted leave to appeal on the issues of whether holding an unwarranted belief could give rise to a finding of wilful blindness, whether the facts supported a finding the applicants were wilfully blind, whether the sentences imposed were unfit, whether sufficient reasons for sentence were provided, and the applicability of the penalty provisions in s. 239(1) of the Income Tax Act to the predicate offences. The applicants raised arguable questions of appeal, did not pose a flight risk, and were unlikely to re-offend if released pending their appeal. They were accordingly granted bail pending appeal, subject to specified conditions.

R. v. Steinkey, [2017] A.J. No. 931, Alberta Court of Appeal, T.W. Wakeling J.A., September 11, 2017. Digest No. TLD-Sept252017006