Message from the Executive Director

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April 2019

Hello to all CTF members—

As I mentioned in my last message, work is now underway for the 2019 Annual Conference and for our four regional conferences. The planning for each event is at a different stage; it is most advanced for the Prairie Provinces Tax Conference, to be held in Calgary this May. The British Columbia, Ontario, and Atlantic Tax Conferences will be in September, October, and November, respectively, with the Annual Conference—held, this year, in Montreal—closing out our 2019 schedule in early December.

For each of our conference program committees, the first item on the agenda, at the initial meeting, is a debrief and a discussion of the input from the previous year’s delegates. As we continually seek to improve both the format and the content of our events, your own input into all of our programming (via the conference app and the feedback forms at events, or through subsequent emails and conversations) is immensely valuable. Please keep sending your suggestions.

The Foundation members who volunteer to serve on conference program committees are another valuable source of insight. Their knowledge of the tax community helps us, first, to identify issues that are paramount for practitioners and clients, and, second, to link that content with expert speakers to create a compelling program. Naturally, the topics included in any particular program reflect the local market for a given conference. That said, a few issues seem particularly prominent this year, resonating in all parts of the country.

An early glimpse of those issues might interest you; you can see whether they align with the experience in your own practice. On the basis of polling data that is, I admit, far from scientific, I would identify the “Top Five” technical issues this year, in reverse order of popularity, as the following:

5.         the digitalization of the economy and Canada’s response,

4.         CRA access to taxpayer records and other information,

3.         business expansion to the United States,

2.         tax dispute resolution, and

1.         the management of TOSI issues in the context of corporate distributions and divestitures.

TOSI was not a narrow choice for first place. It was identified as the single most important issue by every conference program committee. The delegates from last year’s conferences consistently affirmed that the coverage of TOSI had been appreciated but that much more of it is needed, given TOSI’s profound implications for almost every private company. Although most of the conference programs have not yet been finalized, I can safely confirm, at this point, that TOSI will be given plenty of air time at our 2019 conferences.

Apart from TOSI, a couple of issues related to policy and professionalism seem to resonate widely. The first is tax reform. The focus, in this context, is not the details of what could or should be changed in our existing system in Canada; it is the process by which tax reform might be achieved, and it encompasses a review of other countries’ approaches to reform. The second issue concerns the tax adviser of the future: What skills will an adviser need to be successful in a world of automation and artificial intelligence? Both of these forward-thinking topics sparked much debate.

I am confident that our members will find much of interest in our suite of conferences. Please feel free to send me a message if there is a specific topic that you would like to see covered. I look forward to finalizing the details and to meeting with many of you at our events later this year.

See you next month.

Heather L. Evans,
Executive Director and CEO