by LAURA KEIL
Former Valemount businessman Irvin Leroux and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation are declaring victory against the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) after a 19-year court battle Leroux says caused him to “lose it all.”
Last Friday, a panel of three judges in the British Columbia Court of Appeal accepted an agreement between Irvin Leroux and the CRA that ends the proceedings, leaving intact the ‘duty of care’ ruling achieved in the April 2014 court case between Mr. Leroux and the CRA. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has been paying Mr. Leroux’s legal costs during the appeal stage in an effort to protect the ‘duty of care’ ruling.
“I’m so grateful that this 19-year battle is over and that there is now an avenue that Canadian taxpayers have to hold the CRA accountable if the CRA causes them harm or loss,” said Irvin Leroux.
Leroux, now in his early 70s, was not awarded any compensation for his financial losses. He was seeking up to $4M in damages and court costs. He told the Goat in 2014, he pursued the case because he says he wanted to help other Canadians who have also had their lives destroyed by careless treatment from the federal tax agency.
Leroux says it was his dream to open the RV park at the base of Terry Fox Mountain (Irvin’s RV), retire in Valemount and have over 10,000 camper “friends” join him every year.
“That RV Park was my dream come true,” Leroux told the Goat in 2014.
In 1992 Leroux developed his land in Valemount, creating a subdivision and the RV Park. In 1996, he says on his website www.leroux.com, an auditor from the CRA showed up to look at his records for 1993-95, and then took his business and other records, and misplaced them.
“He told me that someone put them on the pile that was to be shredded,” says Leroux. “Without my receipts to show my business expenses, numerous tax audits over several years concluded that I owed almost $900,000 in personal income tax, plus over $100,000
in GST, including interest and penalties.”
At one point, Leroux says he went to the tax court of Canada, who said the CRA actually owed him $24,000, but he’s never gotten any of it. In the meantime, Leroux says he either lost or had to sell everything to appease his creditors and pay for the litigation. He says he lost $4.5 million dollars in business and personal assets because of the actions of the CRA.
Karen Selick, litigation director for the Canadian Constitution Foundation, calls him a hero to the Canadian taxpayer. The reason is because after 18 years of fighting the CRA, Leroux won a decision in the BC Supreme Court that found the CRA owed him a duty of care – to not be negligent with him. In an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Selick says the 2014 ruling by Madam Justice M A Humphries is precedent-setting – never before has the CRA been told by a court that it has a duty to individual taxpayers to treat them with care.
During the trial in Prince George, the CRA’s lawyer Elizabeth McDonald contended CRA auditors acted appropriately; that the documents were not lost but provided by Leroux in a piecemeal fashion, and the problem was Leroux’s failure to properly keep his books, his habit of making improper claims and filing appeals of his tax assessment after the deadline had passed.
The trial judge found insufficient evidence that the CRA’s treatment of him led to his financial ruin.
The BC Court of Appeal judge again agreed with the CRA finding no link between Leroux’s financial ruin and the CRA’s actions.
“It’s sad that Irv isn’t getting compensated for his losses, but he’s a real hero for having fought this battle for 19 years,” said CTF B.C. Director Jordan Bateman. “All taxpayers across Canada owe Irv a thank you for sticking it out for so long to get the duty of care ruling.”