In recent months, Australian courts have heard creative excuses from taxpayers in trouble with the law, and it hasn’t done them any favours in getting out of penalties.
Recently, the NSW Supreme Court has ordered John Lamont to pay $4.3 million to the Tax Office, comprising of primary tax, the Medicare levy, administrative penalties for tax shortfall, shortfall interest charge, penalty for a non-lodgement of a return, and general interest charge. The debts arose during the financial years of 2002 to 2013.
Mr Lamont, who was self-represented in the proceedings at all times, provided a five-page written submission to the court, which included biblical references in support of a proposition that the income tax legislation of the Commonwealth of Australia was ineffective because the relevant acts did not “refer to or define a man or a woman and hence, parliament did not pass statutes that apply to a man nor a woman”.
The submission also cited a 1796 decision of the Supreme Court of North Carolina to support an argument that the defendant is not bound by any laws or institutions except those to which he gives his consent.
“I no longer consent to the statutes in par 7 above apply to me, the living man,” Mr Lamont’s submission wrote.
Mr Lamont’s submission also included statements that he did not consent to “doing business with the plaintiff” or with the plaintiff’s legal representative and did not “consent to these proceedings”.
Justice Des Fagan said the defence was “frivolous and insubstantial” and dismissed them from consideration, ordering Mr Lamont to repay the tax debts and the ATO’s costs of the proceedings.
“In any event, the submissions are incoherent and I have been unable to divine from them anything meaningful,” said Justice Fagan in his judgment.
Further, earlier this month, a taxpayer from North Bendigo told the Bendigo Magistrates Court that he rejected having to lodge an income tax return because he was “a human being who waives my right to recognition as a person”.
Instead, magistrate Michael King found the man guilty of all six charges, noting that paying tax did not contravene human rights, and rubbishing Mr Polglaise’s arguments as “entirely lacking in merit”. He was fined $6,000 and ordered to lodge his outstanding tax returns.
“That would make a mockery of the law,” said Dr King. “This was persistent and blatant disregard of income tax law.”
You can find out more about what is on the Tax Office’s radar this year here.