Despite testifying against her brother Winston Blackmore in a landmark tax hearing, Marlene Palmer said Monday she isn’t angry with him and would speak to him if he would take her calls.
“No, I’m not angry,” Ms. Palmer said in response to a question from government lawyer David Everett in the Tax Court of Canada in Vancouver, adding the last time she spoke to her brother was at their mother’s funeral in 2010.
She doesn’t have a vendetta against anyone, she said.
Ms. Palmer was on the stand for the second day in a hearing that is shining a spotlight into the lifestyles and business operations of Mr. Blackmore and the community of Bountiful, where about half of roughly 1,000 residents have remained loyal to Mr. Blackmore following a 2002 rift that split the community.
Ms. Palmer grew up in Bountiful and was a so-called plural wife to a member of the community, but left in 2008.
In court, she has said her beliefs were shaken when her teenaged son was kicked out of the community and by other events, including a 2002 meeting when residents were given two hours to avow their loyalty and belief in FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs, now jailed in the United States in relation to sex crimes.
In response to questions from a federal lawyer and under cross-examination by a lawyer representing Mr. Blackmore, Ms. Palmer told the court about financial arrangements in the community, including a mortgage that she and her sister were encouraged to sign.
Her sister had health problems and was not able to obtain mortgage insurance, Ms. Palmer said.
“We were reluctant to do the land deal, she said, ‘You’ll end up having to pay for it if I have a heart attack and die,’ ” Ms. Palmer recalled, adding that they ultimately signed the documents.
Mr. Blackmore is appealing tax assessments that found he underestimated his income by close to $1.5-million between 2000 and 2006 and is counting on a little-used section of the Income Tax Act that provides for special tax treatment for congregations.
Mr. Blackmore and his lawyers are arguing that Bountiful, whose members belong to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is a congregation and that Mr. Blackmore’s tax burden should be shared among community members.
Mr. Blackmore has talked about how work and food were shared in the community.
Asked about a big kitchen in one of Mr. Blackmore’s homes, Ms. Palmer said it was used primarily by members of his family.
“To my knowledge it wasn’t a community kitchen, it was Winston’s kitchen,” she said.
Ms. Palmer said she and other women were involved in gardening, canning and storing food, but that they had to buy additional food to feed their families.
Under questioning by Mr. Blackmore’s lawyer, David Davies, Ms. Palmer said that one of her Facebook friends was a Canada Revenue Agency auditor who helped scrutinize the books of J.R. Blackmore and Sons, Bountiful’s business operation for purposes of reassessments that are now the subject of the hearing.
Mr. Davies also questioned Ms. Palmer about her son working for J.R. Blackmore after the time in which Ms. Palmer said he had been “kicked out of the community.”
Ms. Palmer responded that someone other that Mr. Blackmore hired her son to work at the company and that “J.R. Blackmore was not the community.”
She doesn’t like to say she “escaped” from the community, she added, saying she loved Bountiful but the community changed and so did she.
The hearing continues before Judge Diane Campbell in Vancouver.