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West Vancouver dentist who thought he was 'freeman on the land' fined $578K for tax evasion

Peter Balogh also received an 18-month conditional sentence for breaking the law
Peter Balogh
Peter Balogh, a West Vancouver man with a dental practice in Burnaby, has been sentenced for tax evasion.

A West Vancouver dentist with a practice in Burnaby has been given an 18-month conditional sentence and fined over a half-million dollars for tax evasion. 

In a July 6 B.C. Provincial Court decision, Peter Balogh was ordered to pay back $578,885 to the Canada Revenue Agency. That represents the full amount the dentist is said to have cheated the CRA out of since 2005, plus interest and penalties, according to a press release from the tax agency.

Balogh was originally found guilty on six counts on Aug. 9, 2016 — one count for making false statements and five counts for not reporting taxable income.

An investigation carried out by the CRA found that in 2005, Balogh stopped paying himself a salary. Instead, he invoiced his dental practice in Burnaby as a contractor and then wrote cheques to himself.

The dentist is said to adhere to the “freeman on the land” or “natural person” argument. 

“The crux of the argument is that individuals are governed by free will only, and unless they enter into a binding contract with the state — which they have not done — then they cannot be governed by the state’s authority over them,” wrote Vancouver lawyer Kyla Lee in April after a Kitsilano restaurant sought to evade public health orders.  

The arguments, says Lee, have been raised to fight everything from taxes or traffic tickets; in the end, courts have unilaterally rejected the plausibility of these arguments.

In Balogh’s case, it was all about the taxes. Despite warnings from his accountant that the “natural person” argument would not hold water, Balogh continued to underreport his income through 2005 and 2006. Between 2007 and 2009, he didn’t file any tax returns. 

All told, the West Vancouver dentist failed to report $2.177 million in taxable income.

The CRA says that there have been 26 convictions of tax protesters between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2021. That’s led to $2.75 million in fines and 53 years of jail time, says the tax agency.