Chief calls calls CRA tax bill 'violence against our people' - APTN NewsAPTN News

Chief calls calls CRA tax bill ‘violence against our people’


APTN National News
Todd Lamirande
Assembly of First Nations Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day called the tax bill handed to victims of OI Leasing, some who now owe hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes, sickening.

“It SICKENS ME (sic) to watch every person under the pain, agony; suffering of the shameful assault of financial violence from CRA (Canada Revenue Agency),” Day wrote in a status update posted to Facebook.

“They don’t see any end,” Day told APTN News Monday. “That they’ll continue to pay interest charges that the fees just keep mounting and there just seems to be a ruthless effort by CRA just to gut our people out of the money they rightfully believe is there’s.”

One of those people is Doreen Hill. She was an OI Leasing employee since the mid-90s.

In December 2015, she received a letter from CRA saying she owed over $273,000 in tax arrears.

“In April 2016 I arranged to make payments in good faith to CRA,” she said, although she believes as a status Indian she has a right to being exempt for paying income tax.

However, a letter from CRA dated October 26, 2016 was a slap in the face.

Not only did it state she was now in arrears for over $282,000, a lien had been put on her property “to secure the amount you owe us.”

Hill said it has affected her relationships and she is extremely fearful for the future as she nears retirement age.

Roger Obonsawin and Ljuba Irwin created OI Leasing in 1987, locating it on the Six Nations reserve.

It hired people who would be “leased” back to work mostly at off-reserve Indigenous organizations, and because of its location on-reserve, employees would not pay income taxes.

Michele Baptiste joined OI Leasing in 1993 and for an administration fee of 5 per cent of her earnings, she would be tax exempt, or so she thought.

Baptiste would be with OI for 17 years and when CRA asked for back taxes it now numbered in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“I didn’t know any different at the time,” she said.

In 1999 the issue of whether off-reserve status Indians could be taxed went before the courts in a test case known as Shilling.

Baptiste recalls that in addition to the 5% per cent, OI Leasing began asking for a contribution to a legal defense fund.

The federal government successfully appealed Schilling.

In 2002, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear the case and CRA started collecting back taxes.

Years of letters and threats of legal action took their toll on Baptiste.

“I had to quit a job because I became physically ill,” she said.

Eventually, Baptiste felt the only way out was to declare bankruptcy.

“I felt so disempowered,” she said. “I didn’t even know how to start a conversation with CRA.”

Amy Desjarlais knows that feeling, although she only owes $28,000.

“The bureaucratic processes are intimidating for our people,” she said.

She received a letter from CRA just a few weeks ago, giving her four days to pay off the back taxes or be threatened with legal action.

At this point Desjarlais is unsure whether to start negotiating a repayment schedule or wait for a remission order by the federal government to forgive a part, or all, of what she owes.

Last December during its annual meeting in Gatineau, Que., the Assembly of First Nations turned the OI Leasing issue into Resolution #72.

Of the three calls to action, the second one asked the Liberal government in its “promise to forge a new relationship,” grant a group remission order “to all current and former” employees of OI Leasing.

Baptiste went to that meeting but said the AFN has done nothing since then.

Regional Chief Day agreed.

“And that’s one of the reasons I’m raising it,” he said. “Sometimes you just have to create the crisis. You have to stage the issue and put it out there.”

Day also criticized National Chief Perry Bellegarde on Facebook.

“You said you would help—well…we as a national executive must help—I can’t stand back continuing to watch FN citizens from Ontario wait under empty words—we need action, we need this to be a priority,” he wrote.

The third call to action of Resolution #72 directed the National Chief “to make representations to the Minister of National Revenue concerning this issue and report the Minister’s response to the Chiefs-in-Assembly.”

APTN News asked Day about whether Bellegarde had acted on Resolution #72 yet.

“I think the National Chief has to answer that. I basically am going to step forward on my own steam. And ensure that’s what I do as the Ontario regional chief is speaking where I can on behalf of those individuals that have come forward and said, listen I need your help. As far as the National Chief, and what he does or doesn’t do, it’s a mystery at times.”

The AFN, OI Leasing, and the federal government are all shouldering blame from victims.

“The AFN negotiated tax exemption for themselves but did nothing,” said Hill. “They let us down, sold us out.”

Desjarlais believes OI Leasing should shoulder some blame and have done a better job at warning her of the possible consequences.

But the single mother is determined not to go further into debt or declare bankruptcy.

“I don’t even know how to manage (the debt) all alone,” she said. “Just try and pay it off.”

Contact Todd here:

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11 Responses to “Chief calls calls CRA tax bill ‘violence against our people’”

    Tommy Hawk October 26, 2017 at 6:17 pm #

    OI Leasing Services does not ordinarily clearly explain employee risk when signing up for the service. If OI Leasing is aware that there is no legislation which supports their service, under the Indian Act or anywhere else, then they should make employees aware. They told me in 2006 that should there ever be any question about either my tax free pay or my relationship with OI Leasing they would look after me; they said they had lawyers. I was, however, no matter what, so happy to get tax free pay that I would have signed with the devil himself. An extra dollar here and there, especially living in such an expensive area, was welcome. What I failed to comprehend though was that I was complicit in a crime or in an act which would have such horrible consequences. Just a month ago, after 11 years, CRA froze my bank account and just swallowed up $4,000.00 that I desperately needed to pay other bills. I am 65 and I have no other means of supporting myself. I can’t get pension because CRA will grab what little I would get, the whole thing. When applying for EI or other government services, CRA requires you to give them your bank account number, or you don’t get anything. The day I found out CRA had grabbed my money, I almost committed suicide, and I was going to do it right outside the bank. Obamsaywin knows all this, yet he continues putting us at risk. While we are being harassed, sued, and whatever else, Obamsaywin is floating in the warm Carribean waters, sipping on his martinis. I have a good mind to sue him and his company.

      Steve October 27, 2017 at 10:03 pm #

      I know how you feel they did the same to me I had to pay 10 thousand an they ceased my account in Dec Christmas was challenging with 5 children damn cra

    Chr October 25, 2017 at 7:54 pm #

    The Income Tax Act states that a taxpayer is liable for the taxes in each given year at his/her “ordinary residence” in Canada. So, it does not matter where you earn your income, Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg, Edmonton or Vancouver, because you are liable for your taxes where you live and so, not where you earned it. Check out section 2 and 5 of the Income Tax Act and the Supreme Court of Canada case of Nowegijick v. The Queen, [1983] 1 S.C.R. 29 which confirms the Income Tax Act.
    The “ordinary residence” of an Indian, as per the Indian Act and as per sections 91(24), 53 and 125 of the Constitution is on federal Indian reserve regardless of where he lives which could be Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg, Edmonton or Vancouver but his ordinary residence is on the reserve as per Attorney-General of Canada et al. v. Canard et al. (1975), 52 D.L.R. (3d) 548 (also reported: [1975] 1 S.C.R. 170, [1975] 3 W.W.R. 1) and Corbiere v. Canada(Minister of Indian Affairs)[1999] 2 S.C.R. 493.
    Canada Revenue Agency of the government of Canada has a mandate to upgrade all laws affecting taxpayers and Indians or section 91(24), 53 and 125 subjects but is has not updated the laws affecting Indians since 1994!!!

    Chris October 25, 2017 at 5:34 pm #

    “Dispossession” is extreme violence because it is yanking personal property from another or the owner of the property. First its “Land and Resources” and now its personal and real property or “land”!

    Liz October 25, 2017 at 2:55 pm #

    The Indian Act (as much as I dislike it) is very clear, tax exemption, is for income earned on a reserve. Sad situation. To protect status native earnings off the reserve, the Indian Act must be changed, to say all income earned by status Indians is tax exempt. Its that simple.

    Doug October 25, 2017 at 2:26 am #

    If O. I. Leasing was a licensed business to operate in Ontario/Canada for the sole purpose of leasing employees – how is it the government allowed them to operate at the same time punishing the people that worked through the company. And has CRA ever gone after OI Leasing for their service or for offering a service, charging a fee and not being allowed to offer that service?

      Chris October 25, 2017 at 7:35 pm #

      Good point, an employer that doe snot collet taxes from a taxable person is obligate to pay the taxes and pay the fines and additional charges. They are not then allowed to go after the taxpayer!

    Laird Racette October 24, 2017 at 5:11 pm #

    I am a former O.I.Leasing employee.i think tax on money’s worked for is outright theft from the organized syndicate we call Canadian Gov all people should be tax exempt from hard working people the Gov puts hardship on all Canadians

    Dale Odberg October 24, 2017 at 3:21 pm #

    What a horrible situation for employees!

    Dennis October 24, 2017 at 10:14 am #

    Taxs on First Nation should be revamped

      Mary jane October 24, 2017 at 5:03 pm #

      wow! Leasing was created thirty years ago and no one disputed the legality of taxation or a tax base from exemption. What actually happened? What set a perimeter from a pink slip? Is it really tax harmonizing?! What about the Auditors!? The Accountants!? What is the real case story behind the CRA? Did the Leasing set up like a mortgage company like a tax bill for property? As an Ontario Chief you can empower the government of Canada to put an end to First Nation discrimination with taxation imposition. Even in our Territory of James Bay; within the Mushkekowuks’ Tributary Lands as Claimants, and Indigenous Weetaskaymaytowin People; We have not received our Taxation Fund Revenue from the Government of Canada -from DeBeers Company and their illegitimate Victor Mine on our Homeland. Please help us too because those are your main concurrent duties to accommodate, consult and inform us of all Taxation Revenue Claims and due Taxation and Adjustments. We no longer need to be Paupers in the ” past hands of colonization” if Reconciliation is part of inherent and judicial process.