Ogden tax protester sentenced to probation, ordered to pay over $75K

An Ogden tax protester was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay thousands after he was charged in Salt Lake County with not paying taxes for multiple years. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — An Ogden tax protester was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay thousands after he was charged in Salt Lake County with not paying taxes for multiple years.

Cary Michael Woodland, 65, pleaded no contest to two counts of failing to render a proper tax return, both third-degree felonies, according to a news release from the Utah State Tax Commission.

According to state law, a no contest plea means “the accused does not challenge the charges in the information or indictment” and has the same effect as a guilty plea. A no contest plea must also be accepted by a judge, which Judge Amber Mettler did on May 5, the same day as Woodland’s sentencing hearing.

Woodland — who was prosecuted by the Utah Attorney General’s Office — had a potential prison term suspended during the May 5 hearing. He was placed on probation for three months and ordered to pay $75,027 in back taxes, penalties and interest. As part of his probation, Woodland was also ordered to prepare accurate tax filings for income earned between 2014 and 2019, according to court records.

Members of the state tax commission began investigating Woodland after learning he filed false returns from 2013 through 2017, according to charging documents. Investigators found that he earned varying yearly wage amounts ranging from roughly $89,000 to $110,000 between the years of 2014 to 2019.

However, Woodland only reported retirement income in 2013; and from 2014 to 2017, he reported zero income. He did not file returns in 2018 and 2019, charging documents say.

In December 2020, a tax commission investigator sent a letter to Woodland informing him the tax filings were false, requesting that he amend his 2013-2017 returns and file his missing 2018-2019 returns.

Charging documents say that Woodland wrote a letter back a month later and made “several frivolous arguments common to tax protesters.”

Woodland wrote that he “is not subject to taxes unless there is a signed contract between him and the state,” and that his income earned in the private sector is not considered wages and “is not subject to federal tax or withholding,” the charging documents say. Woodland also wrote that “his tax returns were filed by Cary M. Woodland, a separate entity from himself, the living man.”

Investigators also reviewed Woodland’s W-2s from his employer from 2014-2019, which showed no taxes were withheld from his wages. His employer provided a letter they received from Woodland that indicated he requested that no money be withheld from his paychecks.

“(The letter) claimed that Woodland is not a United States citizen and revoked (his) employer’s authority as a withholding agent for him,” charging documents say. The letter also included a form that is normally used by nonresidents of the country to prove their foreign status, though the form indicated Woodland’s country of citizenship was “USA,” charging documents say.

A dozen felony charges were filed against Woodland on April 8, 2021, in Salt Lake City’s 3rd District Court. He was initially sent a summons in April 2021 to appear in court. However, Woodland sent the court a letter saying he would “withdraw” his consent to the proceedings, court filings show.

The court filing appears to show a copy of the summons sent to him, with handwriting over the summons saying, “I do not accept this offer to contract. I do not consent to these proceedings.”

A judge later issued a warrant for Woodland’s judgment after he failed to show for his initial appearance in court. He was arrested and booked in the Salt Lake County Jail before posting bail. Court records show Woodland was prepared to represent himself at a trial from April 11-13, but he and prosecutors settled the case on April 11. The judge officially accepted his no contest pleas on May 5.

As of Friday, Woodland was not in police custody.

Jacob Scholl joined KSL.com as a reporter in 2021. He covers northern Utah communities, federal courts and technology.

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