05/10/2012 06:10 EDT | Updated 07/10/2012 05:12 EDT

Chilliwack Tax Evader Sentenced To Four And A Half Years

An anti-tax crusader from Chilliwack, B.C., who counselled hundreds of people to evade millions of dollars in income tax has been sentenced to 4½ years in prison.

Russell Porisky ran the Paradigm Education group, giving seminars based on his "natural person theory" to an estimated 800 people since 2003.

Porisky told his followers that his research of the law showed the average Canadian didn't have to pay taxes because each working Canadian is being taxed as an "artificial person," a category created by government.

According to Porisky, if one declares oneself a "natural person," no taxes need to be paid. And he practiced what he preached — failing to pay income tax on almost $1.2 million he made off his teachings.

But Porisky was convicted in January on charges of evading taxes of more than $225,000. Porisky was also convicted of evading $66,000 in GST and counselling others to commit fraud.

At his sentencing in B.C. Supreme Court on Thursday, Justice Elliott Myers called Porisky's arguments "tortured and baseless," and sentenced him to 4½ years in prison and ordered him to pay almost $275,000.

Porisky's common-law wife, Elaine Gould, was handed six months of house arrest for her part in the scheme.

Porisky has indicated he will appeal.

It's estimated Porisky's adherents evaded at least $11.5 million in taxes from 2004 to 2008, the court heard.