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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Surprising Discoveries About Income Tax

The summer of ’99 (when our son, Rob, was diagnosed with cancer) was a time of fresh growth in our appreciation of the Lord, in our appreciation of our family members and also a time of radical changes in the Lord’s direction for my life. During the time that Rob was in the hospital that summer, a young friend of ours – Jason Van Londersele- gave Rob a set of seven videos on “Creation, Evolution and Dinosaurs”.

One of the most interesting videos of that series for me was video 5 which dealt with the effects of the evolutionary theory on the development of Nazism, Socialism, Communism and the New World Order. In one very brief section of that video, the speaker listed the Ten Planks of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto of 1846. The second of those ten is a heavy progressive income tax. He recounted that Ronald Reagan had once said in a speech that “The taxation system in America is based on Karl Marx’s idea!” But his next statement challenged everything I had always believed about Income Tax. He said that most Americans are not liable to pay Income Tax at all but that it is voluntary for most folks!

Extremely curious about these statements, I contacted the office of Creation Science Evangelism which produced the video series and asked for more information. They sent 14 pages of material and sources of information. In those pages I learned that while the speaker paid all taxes that were required of him, as the Lord Jesus taught us to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, he had not filed or paid Income Taxes for many years because he was not liable to pay such taxes and would not volunteer to do so!

If this was true in the United States, I wondered if the same was true here in Canada. So my research of Canadian Income Taxation began.

It didn’t take long to find a number of seminars being offered on the subject and I attended a number of such seminars in Toronto in the late summer of ’99. A number of organizations were offering “DeTax” programs with legal forms, documents and affidavits that one could use to stop filing Income Tax forms. But as I spoke personally with a number of “distributors” who were marketing these programs I could not find even one who had personally stopped filing! So I was determined I would not pay one red cent for a program which those who were selling it were not willing to apply personally!! I decided rather:
- to begin my own research of the Income Tax Act itself,then
- to interview Revenue Canada agents personally and finally,
- to write a letter to the (then) Minister of National Revenue , The Honourable Martin Cauchon.

My purpose from the start of this journey was to find out the truth and to put it into practice. If I was liable to pay Income Tax and had a legal obligation to do so, I wanted to fulfill my obligation under the law and in obedience to the teaching of the Lord Jesus. But if I was to discover that Income Tax really was a voluntary matter for me, I knew I could no longer continue to pay it.

I knew that neither the Lord Jesus nor the apostles were held morally accountable for the wicked use of tax revenue which they were required to pay to the Romans and neither would I be morally accountable for the wicked use of tax revenue that was required of me. But if I willingly, knowingly paid voluntary taxes, I could not escape moral accountability before God for the wicked use of such revenue which I had knowingly and voluntarily contributed! So I knew that I had to find out if I was liable under the law to file and pay Income Tax or if I had unknowingly “volunteered” to be part of the system when I had filed my first Income Tax forms as a teenager!

My initial study of the ITA (Income Tax Act) revealed some startling facts:
-Unlike other Canadian legislation, the ITA was never published in the Canada Gazette!
- Income Tax in Canada was first initiated as a voluntary measure to help fund the war effort in the First World War.
- I have been unable, as have many others, to locate or acquire a copy of the official version of the ITA nor has it ever been produced in a court of law when tax cases are being heard!
- Tax agents in the offices of Revenue Canada (now Canada Revenue Agency) and any member of the public must rely solely on an unofficial version of the ITA which is published not by government printers but rather by a private printing company!

Realizing that definitions of words are crucial when seeking to understand any legislation, I went to the “Definitions” section of the unofficial version of the ITA at a local library. The following were some of the surprising discoveries that I made:
-a “taxpayer” is defined in the ITA as: “Anyone, whether liable to pay tax or not.”

The acknowledged fact in this definition that one could be an Income Tax payer even if they were not liable to pay such taxes was the first clue that I had that paying income tax here in Canada just might be voluntary!

Then I looked for a definition of “Income”, but to my amazement although the Income Tax Act was comprised of hundreds of pages, I was unable to find a definition of that which it was designed to tax!!! In spite of this fact, every year that I had filled out income tax forms, I had been required to sign a solemn declaration that Ì had “fully disclosed all of my income.”

So on one trip to the Revenue Canada office in London, Ontario, I sat down with a Rev Can agent and asked what “Income” was. She got down her copy of the unofficial version of the ITA and began showing me various ways to compute income. But I told her I was not interested in learning how to compute such. I just needed to know what “Income” was, i.e. how it was defined in the ITA. Frustrated that she could not find such a crucial definition she called her supervisor to help. I sat there for 45 minutes while two Rev Can agents searched unsuccessfully for a definition of "Income".

While they were at it, I said, “Let me give you an illustration: My wife and I have a garden and our neighbour has a garden and we trade fresh garden produce. Do either of us have “income” from our gardens?” One agent responded, “Oh yes, both of you do!”

So I replied, “Well if that is true, I have a big problem! I have never declared garden produce on any income tax form so if such is actually “income” I have been lying every time I have signed such a form and declared that I had “fully disclosed all of my income.”

When both of those agents had finally given up and acknowledged that the ITA did not even define what “income” was, I told them, “I can no longer file income tax forms because I cannot in good conscience sign that declaration apart from knowing what is meant by “income”. If employees of Revenue Canada, whose responsibility it is to administer the ITA, cannot tell me what “income” is, how am I - a simple worker, to know what it is or whether I have fully disclosed all of mine??

Reading further in the ITA, I found that “returns of Income are to be filed in prescribed form.” Then “prescribed forms” were defined as those which have been authorized by the Minister of National Revenue. So on another trip to the Revenue Canada offices in London, I picked up a copy of every income tax form available as well as copies of every information bulletin that was made available to the public. Many of the information bulletins said that they were “authorized by the Minister” or Deputy Minister but I examined each and every Income Tax form with a magnifying glass and found that not even one had been so authorized! I have searched and inquired now for years for any evidence that such authorized forms have ever been printed and I have found none! So, as far as I know, it is a physical impossibility for me or anyone to file income tax forms in accordance with the provisions of the ITA!

But on that expedition to the Rev Can office I picked up a publication called “Revenue Canada, Our Programs and Services -1999” On page 8 of that publication I found these remarkable words: (emphasis mine)

"Voluntary Compliance

We have designed programs and services to encourage voluntary compliance---the cornerstone of Canada’s self-assessment system. We combine education and service to the public with a comprehensive program of responsible enforcement to maintain public confidence in the integrity of the system.

We encourage voluntary compliance by:

Providing information and help to clients to ensure they understand their rights and obligations, and are able to comply with the law.”

My observations:

-Here I found, in plain English in Revenue Canada’s own publication, that Canada’s self-assessment system of Income Tax is based on voluntary compliance! If something is mandatory, you have to do it! There is no such thing as “voluntarily compliance” to a mandatory law! If you don’t comply with a mandatory law, you face the penalties for breaking that law! Nor does government “encourage” voluntary compliance with any mandatory law…they simply enforce sanctions against those who do not comply!

But when co-operation with a voluntary system is necessary - “programs and services” are “designed” to “encourage voluntary compliance”! Catching fish with bait or lures is entirely based on the fish’s “voluntary compliance”. There is no law that requires that the fish MUST bite! But if the fish decides it wants the “bait”, it swallows the “hook” at the same time! So good fisherman are good at “encouraging” a fish’s “voluntary compliance”!

In like manner, Revenue Canada (now Canada Revenue Agency) is so good at this that almost everyone feels they “need” the programs and services which have been "designed to encourage voluntary compliance" with the Income tax system! Those programs and services include “social insurance”, “employment insurance”, “welfare programs”, “Workman’s Compensation”, “Canada Pension Plan”, “Child Tax Benefits”, “GST Rebates” and even “Income Tax Refunds” etc !

So armed with this information, I wrote a letter in September of ’99 to the Revenue Canada office in London, Ontario. I told them I was a Christian who wanted to fulfill all of my obligations under the law. I explained that I did not need or desire any of the above “programs or services” (which had been designed to encourage my voluntary compliance) and asked them if one in my situation was still liable to file income tax forms or to pay any income tax. I also asked 10 specific questions about the Income Tax Act, Income Tax forms etc. If they concluded that I was actually liable to pay such taxes, I requested that properly authorized forms be sent to me and I assured them that I would guide my affairs according to their response. That letter was sent to them by registered mail on Sept. 23rd,1999 and they received it the next day. But over ten years later, I am still waiting for a response from them or even an acknowledgment that they have received my letter!

After waiting in vain for over 90 days for a response (their own publication stated that they “provide information and help to clients to ensure they understand their rights and obligations, and are able to comply with the law”) I sent another registered letter to the Minister of National Revenue telling him of my inquiries to Rev Can and of their failure to provide the information which I had requested of them. I then informed him that I was no longer an “Income Taxpayer” and requested that no more income tax forms be mailed to me as had been mailed every year since I first “volunteered”. The Minister of National Revenue never replied to that letter, but neither has Revenue Canada or the Canada Revenue Agency sent me any more Income Tax forms as they had for many years previously!

I have not filed another “Income Tax Return” since the spring of 1999 nor have I paid a cent of Income Tax since that time. I simply learned the facts and asked if I was “liable”. In the absence of any evidence of such “liability” I simply decided not to voluntarily comply with the self-assessment system of Canadian Income Tax and clearly informed Revenue Canada and the Minister of National Revenue of my decision!

Over the years since then, I have received a number of “Requests to File” and “Demands to File” and “Assessments” alleging that I “owe” some outrageous sums as a result of not “filing”. But each such document I have promptly returned to the sender by registered mail marked "VOID, your offer of contract is hereby refused and rejected for fraud." I have also assured them that they need not “Demand” anything from me. All they need to do is (1) fulfill their own mandate by answering my questions in my letter of September ’99, and (2) send me the authorized forms which the ITA requires and I will be happy to “file”.

It has also been during these intervening years that I have learned how mandatory taxes are clearly distinguished from voluntary taxes -The first (such as PST, GST, gasoline taxes, property taxes etc) are simply charged and we pay them. But in order to pay any voluntary tax one first chooses to apply for a Social Insurance Number (although there is no law that requires anyone to have such a number), one then chooses to fill out forms (applications) to pay voluntary taxes (although there is no legal obligation for anyone to do so) , then one chooses to put their own signature and the SIN which has been assigned to them on those application forms (when there is no legal obligation upon anyone to do so!) Payment of mandatory taxes requires no number, no forms to be filled out and no signature. But payment of voluntary taxes requires all three!

In February, 2006 the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (now Canada Revenue Agency) sent me an alleged “Requirement to Pay” in the amount of some $115,000.00! But in the absence of any evidence that I was actually liable to pay such, I knew it was simply an attempt to scare me into volunteering back into the system again. I returned that “RTP” to the officer who sent it to me with a letter explaining why his document had failed to instill any fear in me to comply. From that time to the present (over three and a half years) I have had no further communications from the CRA.

I’m sure when our friend, Jason, gave those videos to Rob – he had no idea how they would challenge my thinking and the course of my life! But that was just one challenge to my thinking that took place in the summer of ’99. In my next post, I hope to share how my thinking was also challenged regarding service to the Lord and how it would radically affect my business.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

One of the most avoided chapters in the NT (Part 2)

Not long after we had left the brethren assemblies of which we had been part for 16 years, we were attending a Nazarene Church in Woodstock when the pastor resigned. The board of deacons asked me and another visiting brother, Dave Johnston, to help them out with teaching. Both Dave and I believed that God had a much simpler plan for assemblies of His people than most had ever experienced. So we felt this was an opportunity to seek to guide these dear saints into a clearer understanding of the functioning of an assembly of God's people according to the New Covenant scriptures.

So Dave and I often met together to pray and to discuss the scriptures and seek to challenge each others' thinking regarding the church. But I think Dave challenged my thinking far more than I ever challenged his!

I had long been taught and had believed that there were just two kinds of churches composed of Christians:
The first was the church which is Christ's Body which is composed of all born again believers who have lived since the Holy Spirit was sent down by the Lord Jesus on the Day of Pentecost. This church is commonly known or referred to as the "Universal Church". That term is not found in scripture but is commonly used to designate the church which Christ is building and against which the gates of hell will not prevail.
The second was the church we called "the local church" of which there are many in the world today and for which men are given the responsibility to build and (as history shows) such churches have often been prevailed over and many which existed in former times are no longer in existence! But neither is the term "local church" found anywhere in scripture!

I don't recall just how Dave and I began to discuss the matter of different kinds of churches, but he began to suggest to me that there were, in fact, not just two kinds of churches in the NT but rather three! The term "local church" has confused and prevented many from recognizing the distinctions between two of these three for both are found and are located in local communities!
Dave suggested that the first kind of church in a locality is what scripture refers to as "the church of God". (See I Cor.1:2) That passage of scripture also clearly describes what kind of people comprise such a church.....the church of God at Corinth was comprised of all those at Corinth who were "sanctified in Christ Jesus, called saints". Such churches in other places were also composed of "all (in those places) who call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours". So Dave suggested, that all the born again believers in the city of Woodstock comprised the church of God at Woodstock!

Then Dave suggested that the other kind of church that was mentioned in scripture in a particular locality was churches that met in houses. Houses were the most common meeting place of NT assemblies until the early 4th century when Constantine made "Christianity" the state religion of Rome and from then on "church buildings" became commonly used along with many other unscriptural practices such as a clear distinction between "clergy" and "laity"! Churches which met in homes of believers are mentioned in scripture in such passages as Acts 8:3; Romans 16:5; I Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15 and Philemon 1:2.

The idea that God recognized churches in cities which were composed of all the believers in that city was an idea which was totally new and strange to my thinking and one which I adamantly opposed in discussions with Dave.

However, I also began to realize that I had long encountered some difficulties with seeing only two kinds of churches. Some of those difficulties began to arise when I realized that the early believers broke bread and remembered the Lord in their breaking of bread on a daily basis in their own homes (Acts 2:46) for they had no "church buildings/sanctuaries/halls" in which to meet! While Old Covenant believers always had special places designated by God where they were to meet with Him and to which their sacrifices and offerings were to be brought...New Covenant believers were taught that God did not dwell in temples made with hands (Acts 7:48 and 17:24) but rather that He now dwelt in His own saved and sanctified PEOPLE! ( I Cor.3:16,17 and Ephesians 2:21,22) I will never forget the day when that truth was forceably brought to my attention as I walked out of the Bunsmaster Bakery on the west hill in the city of Owen Sound. Directly across the street was a large billboard with this bold statement in huge letters: "WE DON'T GO TO CHURCH!" Then, in smaller letters beneath that statement was placed a second statement... "We are the church!" As I stopped to ponder that bill board, I had to acknowledge that whoever had placed it there "had their head screwed on right" and had understood a truth of scripture which many Christians never realize! God no longer dwells in PLACES but rather in His redeemed PEOPLE!

Whenever that truth is realized and practically acknowledged by any believer they must also recognize that it is an absolute impossibility for them to "go to church"! If "church" is a place you go to, you could certainly "go to church"! But since an assembly (the Greek word "EKKLESIA" of the NT) is always a people, then if I am one of the people of God, I am part of that "EKKLESIA" where ever I go!

So realizing that breaking of bread, the Lord's supper (feast), was actually a meal eaten in the believers homes, I could not for the life of me visualize such occasions being times at which believing sisters (who had prepared the meals) would now be required to be silent while those meals were eaten in their own homes! (And yet, in the gatherings described and regulated in I Cor.14:23-40, women were to be silent (i.e. not to speak!) But I had never before even considered the fact that the I Cor.14 meeting was (1) not convened in a home, (2)did not include breaking of bread but was, in fact, (3) a gathering of the whole church (in the city of Corinth) in one place! It was NOT a small gathering of just a few of the Corinthian saints in someone's house, but rather a very large gathering of the whole church into one place, I Cor.14:23 (which of course would have had to be a venue large enough to accommodate them all)!

It was then that I began to realize that many assemblies in homes in the first century were gatherings in which sisters took an active vocal part! (see Acts 1:14-2:4; 4:23-31; 10:44-48; 12:5-17; 19:24-27) These facts ran completely counter to my belief (from I Cor.14:34,35) that women were to be silent (not to speak) in church gatherings! How could the Holy Spirit lead women to speak in assembly gatherings when His own Word tells them to be silent????

It was then that I also realized that I Cor.14:23-40 did not regulate small gatherings of churches in peoples houses, but rather the large gatherings when the whole church came together into one place! (I Cor.14:23)

This is verified in the Book of Acts where a number of city-wide or whole church gatherings in one place are recorded. If you read the accounts of such gatherings in Acts 2:46a; 6:2-7 and 15:4-29 (see especially 15:4,12 & 22) you will see that these gatherings were conducted in accordance with the regulations of I Cor.14:23-40.

-There was one speaker at a time,

-no women spoke and,

-although not all the men spoke, they all had the opportunity to do so for there were no “pre-appointed speakers”!)

-Please notice too that in such gatherings of the whole church, there never was breaking of bread (this was always done in houses. See Acts 2:46b)

-Nor was there congregational singing because singing is speaking (Eph.5:19) and women are not to speak in such gatherings (I Cor.14:34,35).

Thus I realized that scripture not only mentioned

-churches in people’s houses AND churches of God in cities,

that scripture recorded

-actual examples of both kinds of gatherings and

that scripture required

-different behaviour in the gatherings of these two kinds of churches!

It was then that I realized that my brother, Dave Johnston, had been right after all when he suggested to me that scripture actually described three kinds of churches!

If you would like to investigate this matter in more detail and consider all that the scriptures have to say relative to these three kinds of churches (The church which is Christ’s Body, The Church of God in your community, and churches in houses) just send me an email at and request the article “Three Kinds of Churches” and I will gladly send it to you.)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

One of the most avoided chapters in the NT (Part 1)

I believe that one of the most avoided and misunderstood chapters in the NT is I Corinthians 14, especially verses 23-40. (Have you ever heard a sermon, or been in a Bible study which addressed this portion of scripture? Have you ever asked a church leader who claims to "go by the Book", "How are we putting ( or should we put) this portion of scripture into actual practice?" Or "In which of our gatherings can the instructions of this passage be consistently obeyed?")

Have you ever wondered what a church gathering would look like if it was governed according to this portion of scripture?

This question was first brought vividly to my mind many years ago when our children were small and we had begun our journey of homeschooling. We had become good friends with another Christian family who lived just a few houses up the street from us and who also homeschooled their children.

While we were part of a "brethren" assembly and (at the time) believed that spiritual gifts such as prophecy, healing, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues etc had ceased by the time the NT scriptures were completed, our friends up the street were Pentecostals who believed that all those gifts were still in operation and that the evidence that a believer had been baptized in the Holy Spirit was that they spoke in tongues. So you can see that our perspectives on the gifts of the Spirit were poles apart!! And yet we often enjoyed fellowship together in each others' homes.

But one evening our neighbour, Mike, came over to have a conversation with me. He was evidently concerned for me and I was convinced that he wanted the very best for me. Since he knew from previous conversations that I had never spoken in tongues, he was concerned that I had never experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit. So he came as a brother in Christ to speak to me about this matter. I told him that there was much in the Bible that I did not understand and I knew I had lots to learn. I also told him that I certainly wanted all that God desired I should have. But from previous experience with other friends who "spoke in tongues" I had observed many things which did not seem to line up with the Word of God.

At that time, I would have claimed that in our assembly gatherings we actually practiced and obeyed the regulations of I Cor.14:23-40. BUT, since we believed that the gifts of prophecy, tongues and interpretation had long ago ceased, the only thing left in that passage to actually practice today was the silence of women! (We were also taught incidentally from this passage that there were two classes of believers: (1) There were those who were "in fellowship" with our particular kind of assemblies and thus were allowed to "break bread" and (2) there were other believers who were "unlearned", were not "in fellowship" with our assemblies and thus were not allowed to "break bread" among us!)

As brother Mike spoke to me about "receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit" and speaking in tongues, I was sure that I could silence him with I Cor.14! So I asked him a series of questions:
(1) Did he believe that the scriptures were inspired by the Holy Spirit? (He did.)
(2) Did he believe that the Holy Spirit would ever lead believers to disobey the scriptures which He had inspired? (He did not believe the Holy Spirit would ever do such a thing.)

So I took Him to I Cor.14:23-40 and showed him how this passage taught that in the church gathering it described....
- speakers were to speak one at a time,
- no more than 2 or 3 were to speak in tongues,
- no one was to speak in tongues unless there was an interpretter who could interpret what was spoken so all would be edified, and
-women were to be silent, i.e. not to speak.

Then, thinking I would certainly show him the errors of what he had been taught and accepted, I asked him the following questions:
(3) In your church gatherings where tongues are spoken... is there only one speaker at a time? (He replied that there were often many speaking at once.)
(4) In these gatherings, are there ever more than 3 people who speak in tongues? (He replied that there were usually many people speaking in tongues.)
(5) In these gatherings is there always an interpretter? (He replied that often there was no interpretter and no interpretation of the tongues which were spoken.)
(6) In these gatherings, are the women always silent or refraining from speaking? (He replied that often, there were many women speaking.)

So triumphantly, I responded to Mike that it was for such reasons that I could not accept that what went on in such gatherings was lead and directed by the Spirit of God. For, as Mike had already acknowledged, the Holy Spirit would never lead anyone to do something which was in disobedience to His own Word. At this, Mike had nothing left to say and seemed pretty discouraged in his desire to have me speak in tongues.

But I concluded with this challenge to my brother, "If you ever discover a gathering of Christians where tongues are spoken and all of I Cor.14:23-40 is consistently obeyed, I would like to observe that gathering! So would you contact me and take me with you if you ever encounter such a gathering? (Mike agreed that he would do that for me and soon left for home.) He never again spoke to me about speaking in tongues.) I believed I had "won" a debate with my brother and that therefore my thinking did not need to change at all. But the Lord had other things in mind!!!

A few short weeks later, as I recalled the conversation with Mike, a thought came to my mind which I believe was a challenge to me from the Lord. It was this question, "What would you do ...
(1) if Mike came back to you acknowledging that what he had believed and practiced regarding speaking in tongues was not according to I Cor.14... and
(2) if he asked you (since you claim that all your assembly gatherings are conducted scripturally) take him to your assembly meetings so he could see I Cor.14:23-40 practiced consistently in your gatherings ???

I had to acknowledge in my own heart before God that I had NEVER participated in or even observed such a gathering! I also had to acknowledge in my own heart that I Cor.14:23-40 left no room for human pre-appointment of speakers and gave liberty to any brother to speak in the gatherings it described and regulated. Yet in almost all of our assembly gatherings speakers were pre-appointed and thus all the other men were virtually muzzled contrary to I Cor.14 !!!

I had been very smug thinking I had shown my brother Mike that his gatherings were in violation of I Cor.14 and that our own were consistent with the same passage of scripture. But now I had to face the fact that if I Cor.14:23-40 condemned the practices of our Pentecostal brothers and sisters in their gatherings, it equally condemned the practices in our own "brethren" assemblies!!

I had accused other denominations of denying the headship of Christ over His church by appointing a particular man as their pastor/minister/preacher/speaker but now I realized that we were just as guilty by appointing speakers in most of our meetings and denying the Lord Jesus His rightful place as Head over us to use whom ever He chose to minister!

This was the first major challenge to my thinking from I Cor.14, but it was not to be the last! But the account of that next challenge will have to wait for the next blog post!