Late in the evening on April 30th 1995 veteran bicycle/foot courierWayne Scott filed a unorthodox Federal Income Tax return. Scrawled in longhandacross the neatly ordered government form was his request that a portionof his daily food and liquid consumption, be recognised as fuel. Mr. Scottestimated his job-related nutritional expenses at $11.00.
Mr. Scott appeared before the Tax Court on July 28, 1997. His HonourJudge D.H. Christie dismissed Mr. Scott's appeal on August 6, citing thedictates of the Income Tax Act.
The newspapers latched on to the story at this point and throughthis national exposure Mr. Scott's plight came to the attention of DainaGroskaufmanis, a tax expert with the legal firm of Torkin, Manes, Cohen& Arbus.
With their pro bono assistance, Mr. Scott challenged Judge Christie'sdecision before the Federal Court of Appeal, on June 5th, 1998. The threejudge panel released its unanimous decision on July 23rd, upholding, inprinciple, Mr. Scott's argument.
In January of 1998, RevCan made a counter-offer to Mr. Scott of lessthan fifty cents on the dollar. Mr. Scott informed his legal representativethat he intended to expose RevCan's insulting counter-offer to the media.Given the legal community's unwritten rule all pre-trial negotiations mustremain confidential, Mr. Scott was forced to fire his lawyer, before goingpublic.
Still, rather than immediately notifying the press, Mr. Scott contacteda number of Ottawa-based RevCan and Justice Department officials, and raisedhis concerns about the seemingly vindictive air with which their Torontofranchise was approaching the debate.
Three days after contacting the Attorney General's office, Mr. Scottreceived a second communiqué from the Justice Department's Torontobranch. They not only agreed to Mr. Scott's $11.00 daily fuel deduction,they subsequently apologised for any perceived animosity emanating fromtheir camp.
The Tax Court hearing took place on March 8th of this year, againbefore Judge Christie. The elderly jurist directed a number of questionsto Mr. Scott, aimed at pinning down the exact cost of the courier's fueldemands. Mr. Scott presented the court with a report from Dr. Carol Greenwood,an associate professor with the University of Toronto's Faculty of Medicine.
Eventually, Judge Christie stated that he was not there to watchMr. Scott and the Crown engage in any further debate. The judge then banishedthem from his courtroom to conclude their discussions.
In an anteroom outside the court, the Crown suggested that if Mr.Scott did not immediately accept the Crown's offered settlement, they mightbe forced to re-evaluate the $11.00 figure, as overly generous.
Ailing, broke and unable to stomach another moment in the companyof these contrived, hollow bureaucrats; Mr. Scott surrendered.
As for how this decision impacts upon other members of the professionis anyone's guess. Right now it depends on who you talk to at RevCan.
Bruce Allen, Appeals Division, Toronto (416) 954 - 3812 Mr. Allensays that all other eco-friendly couriers should re-file their tax returnsindividually.
Colette Gentes-Hawn, Press Spokesperson, Ottawa (613) 957 - 3522Ms. Gentes-Hawn says no other couriers can re-file because they failedto file the formal Objection on time.
Bill Baker, Appeals Division, Ottawa (613) 957 - 2179 Mr. Baker didn'tbother to get back to Mr. Scott last week, but he has the clout to makethings happen.
While the government's intransigence has cost Mr. Scott his job,his health and thousands of dollars in time and expense; his personal losspales when compared with the incredible waste of taxpayer's dollars thatthe Feds continue to invest in challenging Mr. Scott's simple request forso logical a deduction.