Published between 1979 and 1981, Canadian Taxation reflected an attempt by Neil Brooks and other tax scholars to democratize debates on taxation in Canada. Contributors drew on a critique of taxation that had emerged through the Royal Commission on Taxation (1962–67) and the controversial amendments to the Income Tax Act that followed. In its earliest issues, it used language, images, and design to popularize a left-wing understanding of Canada’s tax system as benefitting the rich. Over its three-year publication run, the magazine reverted to a more austere visual style and professional tone, effectively abandoning its early democratizing ambitions. This essay studies the visual rhetoric of Canadian Taxation as a historically important attempt to make tax debates resonate outside specialist circles, and as a model for a more generous scholarship that would use rhetoric to present taxation not as a technical field of expertise but as a key activity of modern democratic citizenship.


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