Polygamist wives accused of double-dipping

Ottawa going after two Blackmore 'wives' for baby bonus payments

Times & Transcript, Canada/June 12, 2009

Vancouver - The federal government is going after two of the women connected to accused polygamist Winston Blackmore for child benefits it alleges they were not entitled to receive, according to documents filed in Tax Court of Canada.

It is demanding sisters Zelpha Chatwin and Marsha Chatwin repay Canada child tax benefits and B.C. family bonus payments.

The two women are among 19 who were allegedly in a polygamous relationship with Blackmore, who was charged with polygamy in January.

The government has asked Zelpha Chatwin to repay about $24,000 that was allegedly paid out over three years earlier this decade.

She received $6,611.66 from July of 2001 to June of 2002 on the basis that she was married or living common law, had eligible children and family income of $31,608.

But after reassessing Blackmore's finances, the family income included rose to $309,003, which in effect disqualified her from receiving the child tax benefits and family bonus payments, the government stated.

She claimed the family income was $40,653 in the next year. But the government calculated the family income at $568,404, which once again disqualified her from receiving benefits.

Similarly, the government sought repayment from her sister Marsha Chatwin based on a recalculation of Blackmore's income. However, the arrangements with her were further complicated by a change in family relations in September 2006.

Marsha Chatwin transferred her children into the care of another person and no longer had any dependents. It was not clear from the court documents what happened to the children.

The case against the Chatwins is separate from a tax case filed against Blackmore, whom the government alleges under-reported his income in the years 2000-2004 by more than $1.6 million.

Blackmore's unconventional family relationships were set out as "assumptions" in documents filed in the tax case.

Zelpha Chatwin had a daughter named Doris on Sept. 13, 1995. About 10 weeks later, Marsha Chatwin had a daughter named Darla.

Blackmore also had children with the women six months apart in 1997, and six months apart in 2001.

Over the years, Zelpha Chatwin had five children with Blackmore; Marsha Chatwin had five.

Meanwhile, on the polygamy charge, Blackmore has asked B.C. Supreme Court to dismiss the case, but if it proceeds he said the government should pay his legal bills.

The court is to hear that application starting June 29.

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