Policy

Man Declares Himself Not a Person, Refuses to Pay Income Tax

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Photograph courtesy Alan Cleaver. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Wouldn't it be great to flip the government the bird and declare yourself exempt from income taxes? That's exactly what a Canadian man tried to do. David Kevin Lindsay—who in 1996 declared himself not a person, as defined by the law—recently lost a lengthy court battle over his failure to pay income tax:

According to Thursday's ruling from Judge Frits Verhoeven, Lindsay filed a notice with the minister of national revenue in 2002 denying that he is a "person," and explaining that he ceased to be a "person" in 1996.

Instead, Lindsay argued that he is, "David-Kevin: Lindsay, a full liability free will flesh and blood living man."

In his judgment, Verhoeven rejected the idea that a Canadian citizen can simply opt out of personhood.

"The ordinary sense of the word 'person' in the (Income Tax Act) is without ambiguity. It is clear that Parliament intended the word in its broadest sense," the judge wrote.

Lindsay tried to declare the tax code unenforceable by attacking the legitimacy of the government itself. "If accepted, Mr. Lindsay's arguments would call into question the legitimacy and authority of Canada's constitution and government including its courts. I could be without authority to make the very decisions sought by Lindsay on this appeal… anarchy would prevail," wrote Justice Verhoeven in his decision.

It's certainly the dream of many libertarians to have the ability to opt-out of the tax system and use their money to further the interests of themselves and their families, while letting the socialists pay for the welfare state. As the judge noted, however, this would create an untenable situation for the government, as "the collection of income taxes would become all but impossible."