Tackling the Taxman: How to Keep the CRA from Controlling Your Investments and Your Life


192 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 1-55022-734-3
DDC 336.24'2'0971






Reviewed by Sarah Robertson

Sarah Robertson is editor of the Canadian Book Review Annual.


Alex Doulis is a former chartered financial analyst and the author of
Take Your Money and Run!, The Bond’s Revenge, and My Blue Haven. He
has led a tax-free existence outside Canada since 1990, spending much of
his time sailing the Mediterranean and the Atlantic in his yacht.

In Tackling the Taxman, Doulis discusses “how the existing tax system
in Canada functions and the abuses it generates. … and what you can do
to protect yourself when the tax beast gets vicious.” He starts things
off with a history lesson. The power of direct taxation originally
rested with the provinces, but in 1917 war-related exigencies prompted
the introduction of a temporary emergency measure “allowing the
Canadian federal government to impose an income tax on the people of
Canada until such time as the war ended.” Of course, the wartime
emergency measure turned out to be anything but temporary. No surprise
there, says Doulis. What government willingly gives up power?

The author paints a grim picture of Canada’s post–1917 tax system.
Much of his book consists of horror stories involving both famous and
average Canadians (himself included) who have crossed swords with the
Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Doulis characterizes the CRA as a rogue
agency that routinely violates the Income Tax Act. The abuses he
documents are, he suggests, a logical consequence of the CRA’s hybrid
nature. Like their counterparts in the private sector, CRA auditors
“are promoted on the basis of how much they bring in.” What sets the
two groups apart is that CRA employees can’t be sued if they screw up.

Doulis’s prescription for fixing Canada’s “sorry mess” of a tax
system is less than satisfying. On the one hand, he seems to recommend
that middle-class Canadians stage a tax revolt (the precise nature of
which he fails to articulate). On the other hand, he concludes the book
by saying “it is up to government to take the responsibility to reform
[Canada’s tax system].” Caveat aside, Tackling the Taxman provides
some useful advice for CRA-wary Canadians, and the author does a pretty
good job of describing the state of our tax system, which is sorry


Doulis, Alex., “Tackling the Taxman: How to Keep the CRA from Controlling Your Investments and Your Life,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/16004.