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Book Review: Make Sure It's Deductible

"Little-Known Tax Tips for Your Canadian Small Business" by Evelyn Jacks

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating


Make Sure It's Deductible
McGraw Hill Canada

Written With the Reader in Mind

Make Sure It's Deductible is a surprisingly readable book. I expected a book subtitled "Little-Known Tax Tips for Your Canadian Small Business" to be pretty dry going. But Evelyn Jacks' writing style and use of real-life tax scenarios season the tax facts nicely and you can actually sit down and read this book of Canadian income tax tips cover to cover.

It's also a book that’s really easy to dip into to find information on a particular topic of interest; Make Sure It's Deductible has a proper index and a full Table of Contents. And Jacks' use of advanced organizers (lists of key concepts) and Real Life examples at the beginning of each chapter, frequent use of charts, headings and "recaps" of important points throughout each chapter makes it easy to understand and retain the tax concepts she's explaining.

The reason I've given this book five stars, however, is because of the quality of the material. Jacks, a renowned tax expert, does a superb job of targeting her small business audience with the information she presents throughout this book. If you run a Canadian small business or are thinking of starting one, you'll want to know about "How to Maximize Home Office and Auto Expense Benefits" or "How to Write Off More Deductions Without Changing Your Life" – just two chapter titles taken from the book.

Small Businesses Are Not Tax Havens

However, I don't like some of the ideas Evelyn Jacks uses as premises in Make Sure It's Deductible, such as the idea that people should start a small business just so they can pay less tax. First, I just plain disagree that "Our tax system makes it extremely lucrative to own and sell a properly structured small business venture" (p. 3). Many small businesses that are vested in one person's skills can't be sold at all. And while every small business can be structured in the way that's most advantageous for its owner tax-wise, that doesn't mean it's going to be extremely lucrative.

Second, Jacks presents starting a small business as the solution to the problem of paying too much income tax. I think that tax reasons are the worst possible reason to start a small business. If that's the only reason a person is starting a business, they should go and invest in something else instead. Small businesses demand passion and nurturing that most people aren't prepared to give investments. They are not something that you can just start and ignore. Unless you are rich or successful enough to hire someone else to manage the business, you're going to be forced to do a lot of things you don’t want to do. A small business is a lifestyle; it's not a "tax solution".

Excellent Tax Tips & Advice

That said, this collection of Canadian income tax tips is packed with practical advice to help small business owners pay less income tax and build a bigger nest egg for their retirements, and disregarding this advice because I disagree with Jacks’ underlying theories would be a classic case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. One thing Jacks and I agree on is the need for tax planning rather than just a Pavlovian payment of the tax bill each year when it's due, and she does a great job of presenting proactive tax strategies that most small business owners will be able to use and explaining exactly how to employ them.

The goal, she says, "is to create an effective plan not only to earn an income but to increase after-tax wealth, implemented over a period of years all within the framework of the law, of course" (p. 21). Nothing wrong with that!

The Bottom Line

If you own a Canadian small business, Make Sure It’s Deductible is a must read. Evelyn Jacks is a giant in the tax advice field and provides a wealth of trustworthy advice that will help any Canadian small business owner save more of their tax dollars and build a healthier financial future.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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