About Heather               About CTF   

Message from the

Executive Director

May 2017

Hello to all CTF members—

One of the most rewarding parts of my role with the Foundation is the opportunity it gives me to learn from the tax community’s wide range of specialists—individuals with different kinds of expertise in tax matters. I regularly see how the sharing (and debating) of ideas by diverse experts can advance understanding and broaden views.

Most of my interactions in the tax community are with Canadian practitioners—the tax accountants and tax lawyers who make up the majority of the Foundation’s members. This group provides no shortage of stimulating debate and discussion. But it can also be stimulating to hear from those who, operating outside the circle of practitioners, view familiar tax issues through a different lens. I recently participated in two academic events, with scholars whose research is enlarging our understanding of tax and fiscal matters. Both events gave me considerable food for thought.

The first was in Toronto. As you probably know, the 2017 federal budget was the first to address the gender impact of budget proposals. (Some countries took this step many years ago, and both the OECD and IMF have recently released studies related to gender impact.) Recently, wanting to learn more about this subject, I accepted an invitation to attend a public lecture and academic round table at the Rotman School of Management, co-sponsored by the University of Toronto and York University. The event kicked off with a fascinating lecture by Professor Diane Elson, former chair of the UK Women’s Budget Group, titled “Budgeting for Equality: Lessons from the UK.” Many Canadian policy makers, with elected officials from all three levels of government, attended Professor Elson’s lecture. Her remarks, supported by many examples, dealt with the uneven gender impact of seemingly neutral policy decisions, including tax proposals. The round table began with a keynote address from Janet Stotsky of the International Monetary Fund; the title of her talk was “Gender Budgeting: A Survey of Experiences and Policy Implications.” Janet’s insightful and well-researched comments, which were focused on developing countries, demonstrated how targeted investment with measurable outcomes can lead to economic growth.

I was interested to note, a few weeks after attending this event, that the Canadian Bar Association, in its report on the billed-basis accounting (BBA) proposal in the 2017 budget, made the following observation:

We indicated [in the submission to Finance] that the BBA measure may have a disproportionate impact on female clients. With the existing income differential between women and men, it is fair to extrapolate that Canadians of modest means may be disproportionately female.

My second academic event came two weeks after the Rotman occasion. This time, I attended the 2017 Tax Policy Research Symposium, hosted by the Waterloo Centre for Taxation in a Global Economy and sponsored by the University of Waterloo. This is an annual event, with a different theme each year, that brings together tax academics from a range of disciplines, including law, accounting, and economics. The format of the two-day event involves a lengthy afternoon panel discussion of the year’s chosen theme, followed, the next day, by the presentation of papers to which two discussants (an academic and a tax practitioner) respond.

The theme of the 2017 event was international tax compliance and evasion—a topic that is more familiar to most of us than gender-based budgeting. Despite the topic’s familiarity, the discussion was very interesting, and it involved thoughtful and spirited debate. (The same cannot be said, unfortunately, of the media’s coverage of tax compliance and evasion, coverage that continues to be rife with misinformation and sensationalism—we in the tax community need to find ways of addressing these complex issues clearly and precisely, for the public’s sake.)

I have two things to mention in closing. The first is a request for nominations for the Foundation’s Lifetime Contribution Award (details are on the Foundation website). The Executive Committee will be considering nominations over the course of the summer and early fall, with the recipients to be acknowledged at the Annual Conference in November. I would also draw your attention to an interesting survey that is being undertaken by researchers at Queen’s University and the University of Sherbrooke on the nature of the tax profession in Canada. If you wish to participate, the links to the French and English versions can be found on our website.

See you in June.

Heather L. Evans,
Executive Director and CEO

6/24/2017 8:17:51 PM