A Bird? A Plane? No! It's Taxfreeman!
by Marco den Ouden
Originally published in West Coast Libertarian - May
Ah Spring! The robins flock back
from the south. Trees bud and flowers blossom. The sun
brings new warmth and renewal to the earth.
But who's that skulking behind that
tree? It's the dreaded taxman. With every silver lining
comes a cloud and April 30 is the government's day to wipe
those happy smiles from the faces of Canadians.
"Ah," you groan, "what's the use?
You can't fight city hall. Nothing is certain but death and
But wait. A hero emerges from the
wings. Wrapping himself in the Union Jack,
not-so-mild-mannered Gerald Hart becomes "Taxfreeman".
Faster than a speeding bureaucrat, more powerful than a
bailiff's seizure order, able to leap oppressive tax
collectors in a single bound, Gerald Hart fights for truth,
justice and the free man's way. Says Hart, "I have, sir, the
distinction of being a person who has not filed or paid a
cent to these greedy grasping vermin in over 40 years."
Sixty-nine year old Hart is a
Winnipeg businessman, the founder of Hart Electronics
Limited, Avtek Systems Engineering Limited and Presto
Manufacturing Company Limited. Like Hart, his companies
neither pay nor collect taxes. Taxes, he says are illegal
and immoral. "I don't evade tax. I simply refuse to pay it.
There's a difference."
To battle municipal, provincial and
federal tax collectors successfully, Hart has employed a
shrewd understanding of the law and an uncompromising belief
in the rightness of his actions.
He has been in and out of court so
many times he has lost count. And except for a few minor
setbacks, he has won every battle.
In 1959 he was charged with two
counts. A charge of failing to file a Tax Deduction
Information Return for employees was defeated by Hart's
argument that he had no employees. All work for his
companies was done on a piecework basis by self-employed
At the same time, he pleaded "not
guilty" to a charge of unlawfully refusing to file an income
tax return. Hart told the court that he was not a
bookkeeper, had no experience and couldn't afford to hire an
accountant. The case was deferred to teach him accounting at
government expense. He never heard from them again on that
Indeed his failure to keep even the
most elementary bookkeeping system has been largely
responsible for his success. Hart himself doesn't know how
much he earns but it has been estimated that he has
successfully avoided tens of thousands of dollars in income
tax over the years.
Hart's particular accounting system
has had other side effects. He is fond of telling the story
about a visit paid by two tax assessors to his store a
number of years ago. The only documents available were some
invoices relating to work in progress located in a box in
the unlit attic. When the intrepid government snoops went to
investigate, their fingers set off large rat traps. Barbed
wire shredded their clothing. "They both left in high dudgeon
with hands badly swollen," relates Hart. "The idiots never
In 1962 came the court case that
made Gerry Hart a legend. He was charged with failing to
file an income tax return for Avtek Systems. He had, in
fact, filed one. It contained no financial information, just
a running commentary. The top of page three specified how
the schedules should be attached: "indexed in the top right
corner with the number as indicated under the Attachment
Number column." Wrote in Hart, "Quite so, but all the same,
up your posterior."
To the question "has the corporation
a permanent establishment in more than one jurisdiction?"
Hart replied, "Only the backhouse."
"Is this the first return of a new
corporation?" demanded the form. "Who knows or cares,"
The return was ruled valid in
magistrate's court and upheld in the Manitoba Court of
Appeal. Lawyers and agents for the Department of National
Revenue left the court "fuming and frothing at the mouth in
unrighteous anger on sighting myself with thumb at nose and
extended pointing at them," recalls Hart.
The Department threatened to appeal
to the Supreme Court of Canada but eventually backed down.
Hart has been filing similar commentaries since then.
When Manitoba introduced a Sales Tax
in July 1967, Gerry Hart put a huge sign in his window
saying "Positively NO Sales Tax Collected Here". He advised
customers who wanted to pay the tax to go to the tax office.
"I am not a tax collector," says
Hart. "But you must!" insisted the Crown and Gerry Hart was
hauled into court several times for his refusal to accept
the task. The cases were usually dismissed for insufficient
Hart was finally convicted, however,
on a sales tax charge in 1970 and fined $1,500. He opted to
go to jail for ten days at government expense. He was let
out in five days for good behaviour. "I told the court I was
not going to be press-ganged into this job," he says. "I got
ten days for calling the prosecutor the Crown prostitute. It
was worth it."
In 1969 the City of Winnipeg tried
to seize goods from Hart's store to satisfy a claim of $293
for an unpaid business tax. However, mortgaged property
cannot be seized in Manitoba and it turned out that all of
Hart's property was mortgaged. This practice is part of
Hart's philosophy for co-existence with the government: "Own
nothing, say nothing, see nothing, pay nothing."
When compulsory hospital insurance
was introduced in the 1950's, Hart declined to pay the $4
per month premiums. He called it "nothing but another form
of tax, disguised in order to dupe the apathetic public."
However, it wasn't until 1962 that he was finally charged
with failing to register and failing to pay.
In a stirring speech, Hart told the
court, "The Hospital Services Act is socialistic and
dictatorial. It allows the individual no choice between its
highhanded plan and insurance of the same type available
democratically through many insurance firms who have years
of experience in the field."
"I did not personally request this
service. I was not permitted to vote upon its acceptance or
otherwise, and in fact I have coverage which is quite
satisfactory to myself. Consequently, the provincial plan is
quite unnecessary. As a supposed free citizen of what is
thought to be a democracy, I resent this encroachment on my
personal freedom of choice. I protest this being rammed down
my throat in spite of my feelings, conscience and ability to
think as an individual."
Hart was convicted and sentenced to
three months. He was out in three days when friends paid the
back premiums for him. But his short stint in jail did not
persuade him to change his ways. He continued to refuse to
pay hospital premiums. Six years later he was again
convicted and this time sentenced to two months.
Despite these occasional setbacks,
Hart continues to prosper in the tax-free enclave he has
built for himself in Manitoba. But the denizens of the
bureaucratic jungle also continue to encroach on citizens'
Just last year a new building was
opened by the Department of National Revenue in Winnipeg.
The director must have been seized by a fit of masochism for
he sent an invitation to attend the grand opening to Gerald
Hart spoke for a great many
oppressed taxpayers when he wrote back to the Directory, Tax
Thievery Brigands, Department of Infernal Revenue.
"Sir," he wrote, "returned herewith
your slimey invite to attend the opening of your den of
thieves, hypocrites, and bloodsuckers." He signed it, "with
utmost disgust, Gerald A. Hart."
In an age of conformity, when far
too many acquiesce slavishly to the dictates of the
bureaucratic state, Gerald Hart stands out as a
non-conformist par excellence. He calls himself Gerald Hart,
Taxfreeman, and not even kryptonite can stop him.
Copyright © 1981 West