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access to justice, readability of tax law, accessibility of tax law, Income Tax Act


This paper reports the results of a readability analysis of various parts of the Canadian tax system, with a particular focus on Canada’s income tax. The results indicate that Canada’s Income Tax Act is significantly more difficult to read than the taxation statutes of several comparable jurisdictions and more difficult to read than other Canadian legislation governing economic relationships. The guidance published by the Canada Revenue Agency for the use of tax professionals and the public appears more accessible. While it may be hoped that the statutory provisions that apply to low- and middle-income individuals would be more readable than the Income Tax Act as whole, the study found evidence to the contrary. Although the readability of the statute can only be one part of a program toward making the tax system more accessible, this paper argues that it is a project worth pursuing.