"I THOUGHT IT WAS GREAT. I'D NEVER MADE THAT KIND OF MONEY."
KELOWNA – She got paid the same as her business partner - up to $7,000 a month - but she was only a secretary. At least that’s what one of the two women accused of helping 224 clients defraud the Canada Revenue Agency of close to $200 million in taxes says.
Donna Marie Stancer and Deanna Lynn Lavalley are both charged with making false statements in their own personal income tax returns, counselling others to commit fraud over $5,000 and defrauding the government of more than $5,000.
Lavalley, 54, took the stand in her own defence on the last day of trial Friday, July 3, saying although she was one of two partners and founders of Vernon tax consultant firm DeMara Consulting Inc., she had nothing to do with counselling clients to use a method called The Remedy to receive refunds on personal debts.
“(Stancer) wanted to start up a business doing tax reorganization,” she told the Kelowna Supreme Court jury July 3. “I wasn’t interested, I wasn’t going towards taxes and accounting. She wanted to start up the business and do that for a while. Eventually she mentioned we could make some money and I figured it was okay, everything looked good. There were lots of people with way more education than we did.
“I thought it would be fun to set up a company.”
Lavalley, from Kelowna, and Stancer, from Vernon, first met in 2008 at Rapid Tax Centre in Rutland. With only a high school education, Lavalley worked as a receptionist and assistant and was surprised when two years later Stancer approached her with the idea to start their own tax consultation firm based on methods they learned during a seminar they attended in Red Deer in 2010.
“I trusted Marie (Stancer), I didn’t know that much about businesses,” she says. “It was understood that I would do the paperwork, the administration of the business. I had no interest in the tax side.”
For her contribution, she, like Stancer, took a personal salary of between $5,000 and $7,000 a month.
“I thought it was great, I’d never made that kind of money.”
Lavalley denies being a part of the “tax protestor movement” — individuals who believe income tax cannot be illegally enforced.
Lavalley is charged with making false statements in her income tax returns for the years 2007 to 2010, claiming false capital and business losses totaling more than $450,000 and claiming false capital and business losses in the income tax returns of other persons in order to obtain refunds totaling close to $10 million.
Stancer is charged with making false statements in her tax returns for the years 2007 and 2010 by claiming false capital and business losses totaling more than $1.8 million and counselling others to commit fraud in excess of $5,000.
Some of the clients who consulted with DeMara now face penalties of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The jury will hear closing arguments Tuesday morning and will have to decide if Stancer and-or Lavalley knew what they were doing was wrong, or if they were duped by an organization that taught them The Remedy at the 2010 Red Deer seminar.
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