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Message from the

Executive Director

April 2018

Hello to all CTF members—

This month, I would like to provide an update on a few important matters related to member services.

First, as I’ve mentioned previously, one of the most important projects at the Foundation this year is the development of an updated platform for TaxFind. Last year, in preparation for this undertaking, we solicited considerable feedback from members, and you were very clear about this unique tool’s critical role in your work as tax professionals.

We heard about your preferences and annoyances in the current version of TaxFind, and we received excellent suggestions about how to improve the user experience, many of which we will try to incorporate into the new platform. We also heard feedback—in this case uniformly positive—about the quality of TaxFind’s content, which encompasses decades of the leading tax thought in Canada. The recurring theme, in this regard, was trust. Leaving aside technical issues related to the rapidly evolving world of search technology, our members trust and rely on the content in TaxFind to help them gain understanding, navigate complexity, and provide accurate advice. And so, as Susan Wong (the TaxFind manager) and I kicked off the development project last month, the thought of this trust was foremost in our minds.

Our overall objective is to augment the high quality of TaxFind’s content with a search tool of equally high quality that delivers accurate, comprehensive information. Important components will include a cleaner, more intuitive user interface and display of results. We are examining customization possibilities that will enable users to better integrate TaxFind into their workflow, and we are trying to determine how best to incorporate machine learning that will enhance the search process and deliver richer results.

We will be migrating to a single platform—that is, TaxFind online—mainly because of the limitations of the DVD technology. Our goal is to launch the new TaxFind Online platform this fall, and we plan to phase out the DVD over the next year. Although I appreciate that a number of members still use the DVD (despite the fact that it is only updated once a year), we are confident that all members, including those who currently favour the DVD, will find the enhanced TaxFind compelling.

More details will follow as we work through the TaxFind project in the coming months, and we will be monitoring member feedback throughout the process. I would like to thank those members who have taken the time to provide valuable input thus far. (If you would like to participate but have not yet done so, please let either Susan [swong@ctf.ca] or me [hevans@ctf.ca] know.)

The second major member-focused area of activity within the Foundation at present is conference planning. Last year, we had a very successful conference season, with strong attendance and excellent content. This keen interest was in part fuelled by the uncertainty arising from the proposed changes to the taxation of private corporations, from the BEPS project, and from US tax reform. Dialogue at the conferences is important to the tax community, not only for those who attend the events but also for those who later benefit from the proceedings published in TaxFind.

We continue to innovate both the programming and the delivery of our events in order to meet the evolving expectations of members. We hold most of our traditional major events (the annual and regional conferences) in the fall. These events are increasingly supplemented by smaller or more narrowly focused events, such as the recent Estate Planning conference and the US Tax Reform conference, both of which were also live webcasts. With our conferences, we strive to respond promptly to important developments in the tax world while maintaining our traditional depth of analysis. All of this work—save for what is done by the Foundation’s small but mighty Conference Planning and Editorial teams—is accomplished by our volunteers, who are an invaluable resource that we must be careful not to overburden.

The Board of Governors, as you might imagine, has provided much helpful guidance and oversight in respect of all aspects of our programming. At the upcoming meeting in May, we will be examining the conference program, and I look forward to this conversation. I view the key elements as three in number: cadence (determining the right number of events and the ideal timing); content (deciding what topics to cover and how to balance speed of response with depth of analysis); and channels (organizing in-person and digital delivery, live and on-demand access, French and English language availability). Establishing the right balance is important. In the coming months, we are going to use survey questions to solicit members’ feedback on these issues directly, and I hope that you will share your thoughts.

See you next month.


Heather L. Evans,
Executive Director and CEO

5/27/2018 7:30:03 AM