This is an unsolicited review of an interesting book that I took out of the Ottawa Public Library. If you live in Ottawa you should support this valuable community resource (the Library that is). Tackling the Taxman and other great financial books can be found at your library.
Tackling the Taxman: How to Keep the CRA from Controlling Your Investments and Your Life, A Tax Empowerment Guide by Alex Doulis (ISBN: 1550227343) , is an interesting set of stories and some advice on how to deal with the CRA.
The book is not an advice book on tax tips, or what you should or should not do, to avoid having the CRA take an interest in your finances. It does outline many different cases of where the author feels the CRA over steps their bounds as the collection agency for the Canadian Federal Government.
In spots the book is a little clichÃ© (if I read another chapter about how Income Tax was a temporary/emergency measure that was not supposed to be permanent, I am going to mutter quietly to myself (oh I did)), but mostly the stories that are told are quite chilling. While the CRA does not have the all encompassing power that the IRS does in the United States (their ability to collect and prosecute effectively makes them their own government), it does point out that the CRA can make your life quite miserable if they use their resources for collection of taxes.
The author points out that the Income Tax act has 4 major parts that he dubs the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Audits, Investigations, Confidentiality and Collection. The collection part is what most folks worry the most about, but the book in its entirety points out that in fact you should worry about all 4 of these powers, because they can all affect your life in a very negative way.
The one really important point that the Author brings forward is about confidentiality and writes about cases where confidentiality was breeched by the CRA, or even worse Confidentiality of others is invaded because of an investigation of you (i.e. CRA goes fishing through your life to find out more about others close to you, or those you have worked with). This is a big no-no, and something to watch for if you are audited or investigated by the CRA.
All in all a scary, but fun read as well. The author’s writing style is quite good for me, very direct, and does not get lost in the nomenclature of the tax act, and tries to give readers a more tangible understanding of what can and cannot (or should not) happen if you are investigated or audited by the CRA. I enjoyed reading this book, but I didn’t buy it, I only borrowed it from the Library.
I also like the Beaver on the cover page.