Income tax: Into the next century

Bruce Ball, CPA Canada’s new vice-president, Taxation, looks back at accountants’ 100 years of contributions to Canada’s tax system and discusses his plans for continuing this work into the next century.

Canada’s Income Tax Act turns 100 this year, and from its inception, CPAs and their legacy counterparts have been instrumental in helping Canada’s tax system evolve and Canadian taxpayers comply. As I take over as vice-president, Taxation from Gabe Hayos, who retires at the end of this year, I’m proud to help guide the profession’s contributions toward the development of an equitable, effective and efficient tax system in Canada.

Over the decades, Canada’s accounting professionals have brought a collaborative spirit to their role as intermediaries connecting taxpayers with government and have forged a robust tax community marked by cooperation and knowledge sharing. A chapter in the Canadian Tax Foundation’s new book, Income Tax at 100 Years, co-authored by Hayos with writer Joseph Petrie, explores how, from the first implementation of income tax to finance Canada’s World War I effort, accounting professionals have taken an active educational and advocacy role.

From advice on dozens of federal budgets, through the Carter Commission and resulting 1972 tax reforms, to the recommendations of the Advisory Panel on Canada’s System of International Taxation in 2008, Canada’s tax system has benefited from the profession’s public interest work across the decades. An article by PhD candidate Till-Arne Hahn discusses in detail how three accountants made a significant difference to the income tax system Canada has in place today.

Following the establishment of CPA Canada’s Tax group and the appointment of Gabe Hayos in 2011, this work has accelerated. Among the latest contributions:

  • CPA Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency collaborate on improving tax administration through their Framework Agreement signed in 2014
  • more than 100 volunteers work on tax system improvements through CPA Canada committees covering 11 tax areas
  • CPAs are helping the Minister of National Revenue’s Underground Economy Advisory Committee address tax cheating
  • CPA Canada is active in the Global Accounting Alliance Tax Directors Group, sharing knowledge and resources on international tax matters
  • CPA Canada brings together CPAs and other stakeholders to consider views on new tax proposals, such as the current consultations on the taxation of private corporations

As income tax in Canada moves into its second century and I step into Gabe’s former role, CPA Canada will continue collaborating with the tax community to deliver:

  • objective suggestions to and collaboration with government on the tax system’s design
  • sound advice and practical resources for practitioners
  • foundational tax training, mentoring, knowledge sharing and scholarship
  • outreach and cooperation with other stakeholders aiming to improve Canada’s tax system for the benefit of Canadians and Canadian businesses

I look forward to building on the strong foundation laid by Gabe and to working in the public interest with my fellow CPAs toward the ideal of a truly equitable, effective and efficient tax system.

Keep the conversation going

What are your ideas on how CPAs and CPA Canada can contribute to the development of an equitable, effective and efficient tax system in Canada? Post a comment below.

CPA Canada’s Tax Blog is designed to create an exchange of ideas on tax policy and practice issues, and their impact on those who practise tax. Your comments can provide helpful input into the public interest advocacy positions developed by CPA Canada.

About the Author

Bruce Ball, FCPA, FCA, CFP

Vice-president, Taxation, CPA Canada