Commodity tax symposium 2019

Stay up to date on critical indirect tax issues and network with other indirect tax professionals at Canada’s largest and longest-running indirect tax event.

Event Details

Location and date:
Ottawa October 23-24, 2019

Keep your tax team up-to-date on the latest strategies to deal with tax changes in Canada. Learn from Canadian experts and maximize your investment by networking with other commodity tax professionals at this popular event, back for the 39th year in a row.

The 2019 CTS program will consist of in-depth technical sessions, practical issue identification and topic analysis, plus engaging keynote speakers who will share relevant insights about the impact of policy and legislation on your practice.

View the agenda


2018 Normand Guérin Award

Congratulations to Thomas Brook and Emily Stanhope the winners of the 2018 Normand Guérin award. The award is presented by Deloitte LLP for an outstanding contribution to the advancement of commodity tax studies for their paper “A Guide to Insurance Premium Taxation in Canada”.

Special offers/promotions

Calling recent graduates of In-Depth HST/GST

Have you recently taken CPA Canada's In-Depth HST/GST course and need to stay up to date on the changes in indirect tax? Commodity Tax Symposium is for you and you can attend for just $1,095! To qualify for the discount, you must have taken the In-Depth HST/GST course in 2017, 2018 or 2019 as a beginner or with some experience, and have never attended CTS or CTS West in the past. For details to register contact Joanna Boutasis.

Refer a friend for a chance to win a weekend getaway

Refer a friend or colleague who is new* to the Commodity Tax Symposium and be entered for a chance to be entered into a prize draw. To be entered, ask your friend to enter your name when registering.

*Friend/colleague has never attended CTS or CTS West in the past.

Additional options and pricing may be available. See pricing and registration for more details.


14 CPD hour(s)
Pricing & registration

You will learn about:

  • critical issues in commodity tax
  • GST, HST, PST and QST
  • customs and trade
  • update from the CRA
  • industry-specific challenges
  • and much more

Who should attend?

  • accounting professionals
  • lawyers
  • consultants
  • academics
  • senior executives
  • professionals who lead internal commodity tax groups for industry or not-for-profit organizations
  • representatives from the CRA, the Department of Finance, and provincial ministries of finance charged with policy and compliance initiatives regarding sales taxes and other indirect taxes

More Details:

Session Descriptions

Early Bird Registration and Welcome Reception
Confederation Foyer

Registration and Continental Breakfast

Welcome Remarks and Keynote Address: How to Organize in the Face of Disruption
Nikolas Badminton, Futurist
Nikolas Badminton

Presentation of the Normand Guérin Award, presented by Deloitte

Indirect Tax and Technology Panel
Moderated By: Michelle Tocher, EY
Panelists: Tim Mathis, RBC; Heather Zannet, Parkland Fuel Corporation
Michelle Tocher ; Heather Zannet

Coffee Beak - Exhibits Open

Concurrent Sessions - choose one of the following:

Defeating Assessments Using the Reasonable Care Standard - Penalties and Assessment Periods
Penalty assessments, director’s liability assessments and statute barred assessments all have something in common – the efficacy of the assessment typically turns on the conduct of the assessed person.
For example, an assessment for gross negligence penalties can only stand in circumstances where a taxpayer was grossly negligent, a statute barred assessment is only usually only permissible if a taxpayer has acted in a negligent, careless or fraudulent manner and a director’s liability assessment will be defeated if the director acted with due diligence.

The purpose of the session is to explore the distinctions at law between the relevant standard of care associated with successfully defeating each type of assessment. The paper will begin with an overview of the key provisions in the Excise Tax Act and the provincial sales tax acts regarding the conduct related types of assessments followed by a discussion of the relevant standard of care associated with each type of assessment.

Speaker: Kimberley Cook, Thorsteinssons LLP
Kimberley Cook, LLB

An Update on Customs
Today’s global trade environment is undergoing a series of tectonic shifts, creating some of the highest levels of uncertainty in years. With the signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement on November 30th 2018, the treaty, casually dubbed NAFTA 2.0 encompasses one of the world’s largest free trade zones and over $1.2 trillion in trade. This session will cover the latest updates on the customs and international trade landscape and help you to better understand the forces Canadian companies are facing when planning their international supply chains.

Speaker: Joy Nott, KPMG
Joy Nott

Networking Lunch

Concurrent Sessions - choose from the following:

The New Rules Related to Holding Companies
The primary aim of the session will be to address the ability of Canadian resident holding corporations to claim input tax credits and the impact of the proposed amendments including the expansion of the rules to include partnerships and trusts. The session discusses the current conditions which must be satisfied to rely on section 186. The session will also explore whether an ITC can be claimed pursuant to the regular rules on the basis that holding corporation is resupplying services to underlying operating businesses and some practical limitations.

Speaker: Brent Murray, PwC
Brent Murray

An Update on QST
This session will provide an update on latest QST developments including:
i) New registration requirements for non-residents of Québec;
ii) The repeal of ITR restrictions;
iii) New disclosure requirements in respect of prête-noms (nominees);
iv) New registration requirements for digital platforms offering accommodation; and
v) Other changes, rules, or developments of general interest.

Speakers: Shelley Smith, BDO Canada LLP; Mario Seyer, PwC
Mario Seyer ; Shelley Smith

Session Break

Concurrent Sessions - choose one of the following:

Nexus Issues - Examples from Canada and the US
Provincial and state governments are seeking ways to force non-resident sellers to collect their respective sales taxes on sales to their residents. This is particularly true in the United States following their Supreme Court decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. in 2018.

This session will discuss the factors for Canadian businesses to consider in light of Wayfair and provincial sales tax registration requirements using examples. It will also discuss the broader implications of registering to collect a particular sales tax including such issues as gross receipts, income taxes and other legislative requirements.

Rosemary Anderson, Thorsteinssons LLP; Ted Bernert, BakerHostetler
Edward Bernert ; Rosemary Anderson, CPA, CA

Claim Me if You Can - Financial Institutions and ITCs
Speakers: Danny Cisterna and Simon Douville, Deloitte
Danny Cisterna ; Simon Douville

Coffee Break - Exhibits Open

Case Law Update
This session will provide an update on the latest important GST/HST cases.

Speakers: D'Arcy Schieman and Al-Nawaz Nanji, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
Al-Nawaz Nanji ; D’Arcy Schieman

Networking Reception

Continental Breakfast

Managing a CRA Audit
This informative panel discussion will cover a range of topics that provide insight in the operational and risk assessment processes that guide CRA audits. Discussion will focus on increasing understanding of the roles within the compliance spectrum, the relationship between headquarters and tax services offices, the proposal process, $5M referrals and reviews, and how taxpayers can facilitate the audit experience. Other specialized topics that may be addressed include supporting documentation for Input Tax Credits (ITCs), gross negligence penalties, voluntary disclosures and non-resident issues.

Speakers: Paul Lynch, KPMG; Priceela Pursun, CRA
Priceela Pursun ; Paul Lynch

Session Change Break

Concurrent Sessions - choose from the following:

Financial Services - Have you Arranged for Yourself to be At-Risk?
This session discusses the “financial service” definition under the Excise Tax Act. Much of the jurisprudence continues to centre on what constitutes a supply of “arranging for” a financial service and whether that supply is excluded from the definition by virtue of paragraphs (q), (r.2), (r.3), (r.4) or (t).

This paper discusses the recent jurisprudential developments in the application of the “financial service” definition, the interaction between the paragraphs, and the test developed by the Courts.

Speakers: Roxanne Wong, EY; David Robertson, EY Law LLP
David Robertson ; Roxanne Wong

The Digital Economy – A Canadian Indirect Taxation Update
This paper will provide an update on the current state of indirect taxation in Canada of the digital economy and electronic commerce, with emphasis on non-resident suppliers of digital goods and services in Canada to businesses and consumers. The paper will consider application of the federal goods and services and harmonized sales taxes, Quebec sales tax (including the specified registration system for non-resident suppliers) and provincial sales taxes. Specific issues to be addressed include characterization of supplies, carrying on business in Canada, and the new GST/HST rules concerning cryptocurrencies. Finally, the paper will conclude with speculation as to both the efficacy of current taxation measures and anticipated future Canadian tax developments relating to the digital economy.

Speakers: Craig McDougall and Andrew Bateman, Felesky Flynn LLP
Craig McDougall ; Andrew Bateman

Coffee Break - Exhibits Open

An Update from the CRA
Updates on audit programs, projects, and initiatives within GST/HST that would be of interest to professionals who are representing clients on GST/HST audits

Speaker: Danielle Laflèche and Jennifer Ryan, CRA
Danielle Laflèche ; Jennifer Ryan

Networking Lunch
GST Leaders Update

Concurrent Sessions - choose from the following:

Duty of Care Owed to Taxpayers
Speakers: Neil Bass and Angelo Gentile, Aird & Berlis LLP
Angelo Gentile ; Neil Bass

PST Hot Topics
The provinces of British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba (the “PST Provinces) still have their own provincial retail sales taxes. Many businesses that are non-residents of the PST Provinces may not be familiar with the PST compliance requirements in these provinces. These businesses may operate in the PST Provinces without taking into consideration the application of the PST to their operations, including various administrative positions that are taken by the tax authorities. This session will cover certain issues that are generally raised by the tax authorities during an audit or issues that businesses raise with respect to the PST. This session will cover the following topics: (1) the application of PST to software in British Columbia, (2) the application of PST to real property contracts in British Columbia, (3) self-assessment of PST for goods and services acquired outside the PST Provinces and consumed in the provinces, (4) security and bonding in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, (5) real property and tangible personal property in Manitoba, (6) real property services in Saskatchewan, and (7) non-resident registration requirements in Saskatchewan.

Speaker: Andrew Azmudeh, Deloitte
Andrew Azmudeh

Session Change Break

Concurrent Sessions - choose from the following:

What's Fair and Reasonable? PSBs and Businesses Making Mixed Supplies
Speakers: Brittany Poon and Mitch LaBuick, BDO Canada LLP
Brittany Poon

Issues Faced in Real Property
Speaker: Christina Zurowski, Grant Thornton

Coffee Break - Exhibits Open

Provincial PST Panel
The panel will provide a brief update on any legislative changes made in the last few years with respect to the provincial sales tax in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Further, the panel will also provide a provincial perspective on the PST hot issues such as software, interprovincial services, non-resident registration requirements.

Moderated By: Amrita Abraham, Scotiabank
Panelists: David Taillon, Government of Manitoba; Michelle Lee, Government of British Columbia; Leslie Jerkovits, Government of Saskatchewan
Leslie Jerkovits ; Michelle Lee ; David Taillon ; Amrita Abraham

Conference Adjourns

Post Symposium Workshop: Fundamental Legal Principles for the Commodity Tax Practitioner: A Practical Approach
Fundamental legal principles provide the foundation for the application of commodity tax. Mastering such principles assists the commodity tax practitioner not only in advising on transactions but also in the resolution of disputes with tax authorities and between contracting parties.

This workshop will offer a practical approach by applying targeted concepts of trust law, contract law and corporate law to situations encountered daily by practitioners. In addition, key legal concepts including consideration, delivery, indemnification and the legal differences between agreements, purchase orders and invoices will be explored.

Participants will leave this session not only with a toolbox of relevant legal principles but also with practical advice on how to apply such principles to their daily practice.

Speakers: Thomas Brook and Michael Citrome, EY Law LLP
Guest Speaker: Heather Zannet, Parkland Fuel Corporation
Thomas Brook ; Heather Zannet

Thank you to our Advisory Committee
Sania Ilahi (Chair)
Ernst & Young LLP

Amrita Abraham

David Card

Barbara Hoffmann
B. Hoffmann Associates Ltd.

Alan Kenigsberg

Brent Murray

Shelley Smith
BDO Canada

Barbara Hoffman ; David Card ; Alan Kenigsberg ; Sania Ilahi ; Brent Murray ; Amrita Abraham ; Shelley Smith

Venue[s] and Accommodation[s]


The Westin Ottawa Hotel
11 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, ON K1N 9H4


Courtyard by Marriott Ottawa Downtown
350 Dalhousie Street, Ottawa, ON K1N 7E9

A room block has been reserved at the Courtyard by Marriott Ottawa Downtown.
Traditional room $249 plus applicable taxes, valid until September 23rd.
Reservation link for CPA - Commodity Tax Symposium

Frequently asked questions:

Networking events

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Welcome Reception: Begin the conference with an opportunity to network with attendees prior to the symposium. The Welcome Reception will take place in the Confederation Foyer (4th Floor) of The Westin Ottawa from 5.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Networking Reception: Following the day's sessions, join attendees, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors for the CTS networking reception. Enjoy a beverage or two while visiting conference exhibitors and meeting fellow attendees.

What equipment do I need to join the virtual conference?

For a smooth virtual conference experience, ensure that you have:

  • the most current operating system and browser on the device you will use to connect to the virtual conference platform
  • access to high speed/broadband Internet (or 4G/LTE services for mobile/tablet devices); if you are not on high-speed Internet, your video may become patchy at times
  • speakers/headphones to hear the conference speakers
Sponsors & Exhibitors


Deloitte EY QuickBooks: Intuit KPMG Ryan


CPA Canada DMA QuickBooks: Intuit Thomson Reuters logo

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This comprehensive two-part course delivers the latest indirect tax resources, techniques and business tools to help you succeed.