Hello to all CTF members—
I would like to accomplish three things with this month’s message: to
provide you with an update on some of the Foundation’s initiatives in
support of tax research and policy in Canada; to share with you some
other timely and relevant developments; and to profile some of the
outstanding scholars involved in these initiatives and developments.
Before I do so, however, I would like to offer my congratulations to Kevin Milligan, a co-editor of the Canadian Tax Journal,
and responsible for its Policy Forum feature. Kevin recently started an
executive interchange with the Privy Council Office, where he will be
making a significant and valuable contribution that will benefit all
Canadians. During his secondment, he is taking a leave from the
University of British Columbia, where he is a professor of economics,
and from his editorship of the journal. Congratulations, Kevin, on this
important appointment and on the recognition of your talent that it
I am delighted that Frances Woolley has agreed to join the editor group at the Canadian Tax Journal
and, in Kevin’s absence, to take the lead on the Policy Forum section.
Frances is a professor in the Department of Economics at Carleton
University, where she has taught since 1990. Her research focuses on
families and Canadian public policy. She is a former president of the
Canadian Economics Association and an accomplished scholar, and her long
record of publications includes many contributions to Foundation
publications, including the Canadian Tax Journal.
As the co-editor now responsible for the journal’s Policy Forum
section, Frances is seeking feedback from readers on the feature’s
current format, and she is looking both for prospective contributors and
for suggestions on topics. Typically, the Policy Forum feature consists
of three or four articles offering a variety of perspectives on a
topical policy issue. Recent topics have included election platform
costing, provincial finances, the reform of corporate taxation, and
offshore tax evasion. I encourage interested members to share your
thoughts with Frances by completing the survey.
I am also very pleased to announce the
launch of a timely new series of articles on digital services taxes
(DSTs). Professor Allison Christians will be authoring the CTF Digital Tax Log,
with the goal of providing to the tax community prompt, comprehensive
updates on the details and progress of the DST measures adopted in
various countries. The OECD continues its work on developing a
consensus-based solution to the tax challenges arising from the
digitalization of the global economy. In the meantime, unilateral
measures proliferate around the world, and the pace of change is rapid.
The name of the CTF Digital Tax Log reflects both its format
and its content; it will comprise a regular series of open-access posts
on the Foundation website that will analyze the state of play of DSTs
around the world, with commentary on the key features of proposed and
adopted regimes, analysis of convergences and divergences across
regimes, and notifications about relevant communications as they arise.
The inaugural instalment, which is now on our website,
provides an overview of the landscape, comparing some of the key
features of proposed and adopted DSTs and providing a visual timeline of
developments to date. Subsequent entries will track the trends as they
develop through the end of the year, including any developments in
continued US trade-related scrutiny.
Allison is Associate Dean (Research) and the H. Heward Stikeman Chair
in the Law of Taxation at the McGill University Faculty of Law. Her
research and teaching focus on national and international tax law and
policy issues. She is also actively engaged in the ongoing discussions
of international taxation, and I look forward to her thoughts and
analysis. I am confident that the CTF Digital Tax Log
will be of interest both to our members and to the broader community of
tax experts, policy makers, and policy observers around the world. To
that end, we welcome comments and inquiries from readers (with a
comments section coming soon), and we hope to host a dialogue on our
site about the nature and practical implications of this fascinating and
fast-moving area of international tax.
Finally, I would like to update you on some exciting developments in
one of our longstanding publications. For almost 60 years, the Canadian
Tax Foundation published information on public finance through an annual
monograph, Finances of the Nation, and its predecessor, The National Finances. In 2014, this content was incorporated into the Canadian Tax Journal’s
Finances of the Nation (FON) feature, which presents annual surveys of
provincial and territorial budgets, along with topical articles on
taxation and public expenditures in Canada. For decades, these
publications have served tax experts and policy makers as a single,
easily accessible source of aggregated public finance data in Canada,
with enduring value as a resource and historical record. The static
presentation, however, has limited the utility of this information for
researchers. A new and more cutting-edge approach was required.
Under the sponsorship of the Foundation and the guidance of
economists Michael Smart (University of Toronto), Ken Mackenzie
(University of Calgary), Trevor Tombe (University of Calgary), and their
team, an ambitious project is underway to gather and publish the public
finance data online, along with current and historical articles on
public policy in Canada. This project will assemble datasets and build
tools to make new analysis and data more widely available—to
researchers, practitioners, government officials, journalists, and the
general public. The first datasets on the FON website address government
revenue and expenditures, statutory tax rates, information gleaned from
the Canada Revenue Agency's T1 Income Statistics, and the specific cost
and benefits of various taxes and programs. We expect this open-access
to be very useful and to help address the data limitations that
currently restrict robust public policy analysis. FON researchers will
continue to publish policy analysis regularly in the Canadian Tax Journal,
but the FON website will be an additional outlet for shorter works of
commentary on policy issues. Members are invited to visit the website,
and to send comments and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We at the Foundation are excited to collaborate on this important
effort, and the timing—as our country looks for insight into
post-pandemic economic recovery—is particularly good.
I hope that you will find all of this new content useful and that it
will create additional opportunities for engagement and discussion.
See you next month.
Heather L. Evans,
Executive Director and CEO