Message from the Executive Director

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January 2021


Happy new year to all CTF members—

I hope that you managed to relax and recharge over the holiday season, after a most challenging and eventful year. With the vaccine campaign now underway, we have the prospect of a return to some semblance of normal pre-pandemic life. But the timing remains uncertain. One thing seems clear: the brisk pace experienced by tax professionals during 2020 is likely to continue in 2021.

The volume of legislative change last year was significant, and the transaction market was also very active; advisers to both public and private companies were kept busy to the very end of the year. Ahead is the prospect of considerable tax developments both domestically and globally.

In Canada, we anticipate the arrival, sometime this spring, of the first federal budget in almost two years, prepared under the direction of a new finance minister. Given the magnitude of the federal deficit forecast in the November fall economic statement, new tax measures seem inevitable, and this has given rise to considerable speculation. The fall economic statement also included plans (including consultations) to study the general and specific anti-avoidance rules. (The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear two GAAR cases this year, which will yield additional insight into this important topic.) In addition, the fall economic statement raised the possibility of a digital services tax. Whether this initiative proceeds will depend on whether there is any progress on the global front; the OECD is working to achieve a multilateral, consensus-based solution that will obviate the need for such a tax, but this task is most challenging. At the Foundation, we look forward to providing informed commentary and insight on all these matters in the coming months.

I am anticipating a busy and productive year at the Foundation. Later this month, our Conferences Committee will meet to debrief on 2020 events and start detailed planning for 2021. We learned a lot (in particular, the importance of flexibility) from last fall’s suite of virtual conferences, and we will use those lessons to improve our future offerings. Our pipeline of publications for 2021 is robust and includes a much-anticipated treatise on GAAR, edited by Brian Arnold. A project focused on designing and implementing the next iteration of TaxFind enhancements is also planned for later this year.

Finally, we have recently started work on an updated strategic plan for the Foundation. The plan that we established for the 2016-2020 period proved an invaluable source of discipline when it came to setting priorities, allocating resources, and measuring progress, and we have followed that plan to a successful conclusion. The disruptions caused by the pandemic bring urgency to our renewed planning, but they also pose a unique and exciting challenge, compelling us to identify new ways of operating. We have undertaken research that will help us better understand the evolving professional services market in Canada and the ways in which the Foundation can best support our members and the broader tax community. Our Board of Governors will be guiding this exercise, and we will be asking many of our members and other stakeholders for feedback. I look forward to engaging with many of you in connection with this important effort. Please reach out to me should you wish to share your thoughts on any aspects of our work.

See you next month.

 

Heather L. Evans,
Executive Director and CEO