Tax Law Handbook: A Guide to Canadian Court Cases


125 pages
ISBN 0-88908-560-9




Reviewed by P.F. McKenna

P.F. McKenna was librarian at the Police Academy, Brampton, Ontario.


Audrey Wakeling is an Edmonton-based lawyer who has dealt with tax law for several years as a faculty member at the University of Saskatchewan and as a practitioner. This slim volume represents the third revised edition of a handbook that originally appeared in 1980. The author presents a general discussion of the interpretation of tax law and highlights the major sources of income tax law in Canada. She proceeds to outline general principles regarding the calculation of income and moves to the more specific areas of income from employment, business, and property. A comparatively long chapter examines the area of capital gains and losses. The author proceeds to address specific deductions from taxable income under Division C of the Income Tax Act (R.S.C. 1970, c.I-5). The next chapter deals with the computation and payment of tax for corporations and individuals. Shareholders and corporations provide the next topic of discussion, followed by some remarks and cases relating to capital cost allowance and eligible capital property. Ms. Wakeling concludes with a brief section on the taxation of non-residents and the administration and enforcement of the Income Tax Act.

By and large, the whole area of law for the layman requires considerable improvement. It could be argued that only the very best legal authors should be charged with the responsibility of presenting such complex matters to an often willing but essentially untutored audience. The idea that anyone could read a volume such as this and be able, in any coherent way, to master the awesome complexities of Canadian tax law is, of course, sheer madness. Indeed, one might suggest that the publishers would be more accurate in calling this a “Pre-Counsel Series” rather than a “Self-Counsel Series.” In any case, Ms. Wakeling has made a number of significant omissions, a fact that greatly diminishes the value of this work as a handbook for the lay reader and as a guide for the perplexed taxpayer. Her discussion of the sources of tax law in Canada is far too brief, and what she does present is not altogether useful. The author has given no real assistance to the reader in pursuing the sources which she is obliged to rely on in her own practice. The handbook refers to many tax law cases (e.g., The Queen v. Layers, [1979] C.T.C. 341, 78 D.T.C. 6230), yet nowhere does the author enlighten her readers as to the meaning of these abbreviations. It would require little effort to explain that these case reports are available and to give a listing of the various reporting services referred to in the text. The author also notes that the Regulations made under 221(1) of the Income Tax Act are published in the Canada Gazette. A more thorough writer would clearly indicate that these regulations only appear in the Canada Gazette Part II. The absence of even a short list of recommended readings is another serious oversight and presumes that the reader will limit his study to the present work alone. Ms. Wakeling has also omitted the traditional “Table of Cases,” which appears in even the most humble (but self-respecting) legal text. The author should certainly take the opportunity of a subsequent edition to make some of the much-needed improvements to this handbook.


Wakeling, Audrey A., “Tax Law Handbook: A Guide to Canadian Court Cases,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 26, 2024,