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“An Ottawa man is being told to pay more than $190,000 in back taxes despite an arrangement through an outsourcing company that he and thousands of other indigenous employees believed made them exempt from paying personal income tax on income earned off-reserve.

Miche Jette received a notice from the Canada Revenue Agency last week informing him he owes $191,471.97 in income tax for work in Ottawa that began more than a decade ago.

“It’s urgent. It eats at me. I can’t sleep. I’m miserable. I’m depressed. I cry a lot. I’m angry. I’m sad. And I want it dealt with,” he said.

Jette was hired through the outsourcing company, Native Leasing Services, to work at the now-defunct advocacy group Aboriginal Healing Foundation in 1999.

As part of the O.I. Group of Companies, the outsourcing company’s head office is based in Six Nations of the Grand River, a First Nation near Brantford, Ont.

Off-reserve tax exemption

Because status Indians are exempt under Section 87 of the Indian Act from taxation on income earned on-reserve, the company’s objective was to offer First Nations people the same incentive to work for indigenous organizations off-reserve.

It seemed like an ideal situation to Jette, who grew up in Ottawa and is a member of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation in southern Ontario.

The Canada Revenue Agency notified Miche Jette that his wages would be garnisheed to pay more than $190,000 in back taxes.

“If it’s all aboriginal, then it’s tax-free,” he said. “So was I down for it? Yeah.”

But after a series of court challenges in the early 2000s, CRA started targeting individuals like Jette, demanding taxes on income earned off-reserve, even if they were working for aboriginal organizations.

He learned that his current wages as a receptionist and front-line worker at the Centretown Community Health Centre would be garnisheed until the debt is paid off. He makes roughly $2,000 a month.”

– Waubgeshig Rice, “CRA orders First Nations man to pay $190K in back taxes,” CBC NewsMarch 29, 2016

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