Catching up with In-Depth Tax grads

We caught up with some of the grads from the In-Depth Tax Course to find out why they chose the program, what they learned and where they plan to take their new know-how.

If you’re a tax specialist working in Canada, chances are you’ve taken the In-Depth Tax Course. The three-year program boasts a 40-plus year history and is considered the country’s pre-eminent tax offering. Three years ago, the program was given a makeover to place a greater emphasis on competencies and add more overall rigour, an expanded technology component and government guest speakers.

Students from the redeveloped program recently celebrated their accomplishments in graduation ceremonies in Ontario, B.C. and Quebec.

MICHELLE CHAN, CPA, CA

Manager, Tax, PwC
Toronto

Why this program?

Given my career selection, it’s probably safe to say that I am genuinely interested in tax. So taking the In-Depth seemed liked a natural decision to supplement my work. It also doesn't hurt that the course was highly encouraged and paid for by my employer.

Best lesson?

Throughout the In-Depth, we were grouped with people from all over Canada practising in different areas of tax and with different backgrounds. Having this diversity taught me the importance of reaching out to peers and leveraging other people's experiences and knowledge pool.

Best memory?

My best memory of the In-Depth would be the graduation ceremony. It felt a little surreal that I was finally done.

Advice for new students?

If you’re so fortunate to get someone from the CRA in your study group, take advantage of it and ask them as many questions as you can.

Where to next?

For now I’m going to take advantage of the additional hours I’ve gained that were previously spent on extra-curricular learning. Once that wears thin, I may look into participating in one way or another in helping deliver the In-Depth. Only time will tell where that takes me!

KARL HENDRICKSON, CPA, CA

Manager, KPMG Enterprise Tax
Lethbridge, Alberta

Why this program?

I was drawn to the In-Depth for a number of reasons. First, both my friends and colleagues recommended the program for the knowledge and skills I would obtain. I also realized that I wanted to have a deeper knowledge of tax and In-Depth was noted as covering the widest range of tax topics and resources.

Best lesson?

The most valuable thing I learned was how to research. I’ve always been a strong researcher but the program provided me with a solid foundation of how to navigate the Income Tax Act. I learned what additional resources are available to help me find the answers I need.

Best memory?

The group project. I remember sitting down with our group for the first time and hearing how everyone’s experiences were very different. It was interesting to see how everyone took a different approach to solve a similar problem. At the end of the day the solution was the same, however, the path to get there was not.

Advice for new students?

Take the entire program seriously. There are a lot of concepts, ranging from personal tax planning to large international public company topics. Do your best to understand the concepts even though you might not see them every day. You’d be surprised how often having a basic understanding of the concept will serve you in your career.

Where to next?

The sky’s the limit! After taking the program I know I can do anything and I have new skills and knowledge that will serve me well. I’m going to take a break from studying for one tax season, and then, who knows? As for career goals, I plan on using these new skills and knowledge to help me become a partner with KPMG.

LEAH PLUMRIDGE, JD, MBA

Associate lawyer, Couzin Taylor LLP & Ernst & Young LLP
Vancouver

Why this program?

There is a symbiotic relationship between accountants and lawyers practising in tax. As a law student, I received plenty of training in statutory interpretation and looking for the 'grey area' in a particular set of facts. The In-Depth provides an opportunity for lawyers to expand their toolkit and an opportunity to network with accountants who are at a similar place in their careers.

Best lesson?

This is a tough one. Anything by Mark Kaplan (who teaches international tax). In truth, I found the third year in-residence portion of the program to be most relevant and timely for my international tax practice.

Best memory?

I really enjoyed returning to Whistler year after year to meet with the same people who were taking the course. It’s a great opportunity to get to know your colleagues across the country.

Advice for new students?

Articles and summaries can become dated quickly and may not cover all of the nuances of a given fact scenario. You’ll hear this over and over again, but it really is imperative to read the Income Tax Act rather than relying on summaries to make sure you understand the advice you’re giving.

Where to next?

I’m practicing as a lawyer with Couzin Taylor LLP and provide international tax advice with Ernst & Young LLP. I will likely take additional CPA Canada offerings which complement my practice, such as the In-Depth International Tax Course.

DARLENE SHAW, CPA, CA

Senior manager, Tax, Collins Barrow NS Inc.
Halifax

Why this program?

The In-Depth is recognized as the pre-eminent training program for tax practitioners in Canada. Clients and potential employers view completion of the course as the best indicator of a practitioner with substantial knowledge of Canadian tax issues and solutions. Given the existing economic climate, a practitioner with this body of knowledge is very sought after, both in public practice and in industry.

Best lesson?

Having the body of knowledge provided by this program to avoid tax pitfalls while still taking advantage of good planning strategies will set you apart as a valued business advisor.

Best memory?

Year one in-residence. By stroke of luck, all of the ladies in my year one in-person study group managed to get located in Whistler for their in-residence. Travelling from the east coast, we all flew to Vancouver the day before and kicked off in-residence unofficially with dinner, drinks and lots of laughs. We had a fantastic time the entire week, made great friends and shared incredibly fun times. Not one instance stands out — the entire week was amazing.

Advice for new students?

Make friends and have fun! You will meet many people from various backgrounds and industries. The connections you make with fellow practitioners are ones you will continue to draw on in the future, both personally and professionally. Above all, enjoy the experience!

Where to next?

Having worked for many years in the field of U.S. tax, completion of the In-Depth allows me to expand my skillset and join fellow cross-border specialists at Collins Barrow in serving our clients’ unique needs.

Highlights

Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary. We’re celebrating you, Canadian CPAs. Tell us why you’re proud to be a Canadian CPA. Then watch for our big celebration in July.

Gain practical organizational insights and learn from industry experts at this annual event for not-for-profit financial leaders.