by Shaun McLaughlin
first published in Shaun on Council
The tax-denier movement, which originated in the US, has made its way to Mississippi Mills thanks to the Lanark Landowners Association (LLA). In its July 21, 2013, newsletter, the LLA urged rural residents not to pay the one-time $115 septage plant levy. The newsletter presented a dubious legal argument for why the levy is illegal and illegitimate. The LLA is just plain wrong, but at least eight residents have followed its advice and now face an uncompromising tax arrears system.
Anyone who has followed my blog or letters knows I have been against the septage plant and the levy since before I joined Council. And, I am an LLA supporter when they stick to property rights issues. I told Jeff Bogaerts, the LLA President, that I believe the LLA to be “irresponsible” on this issue. (He has agreed to disagree.)
The town has plenty of authority to impose a levy for a capital project under the Municipal Act. Taxpayers really have no choice and the courts will not be sympathetic if anyone chooses to go that route. A July 6 National Post article states tax-denier cases are beginning to clog Canadian courts. “Sometimes called ‘de-taxers’, ‘Freemen on the Land’ ‘Sovereign Citizens’ and other names, each case contains similar attempts to avoid tax or other legal obligations,” it says. It adds: “None are known to have been successful.”
The Municipal Act is clear on what happens in tax arrears cases. The unpaid $115 and accrued interest (1.25% per month, 15% annually) will be deducted from the first tax payment the resident makes in 2014. That means their 2014 taxes will be in arrears by $115 plus interest. The amount owing continues to accumulate interest, month by month, year by year. It does not go away.
I talked to one levy-holdout in Clayton by phone and urged him to do what I did: “Just hold your nose and pay it.” That is the best counsel I can give anyone else.