CPA Canada hosts GAA tax directors

Tax education, dispute resolution and ethics for tax practitioners — these were just a few topics on the agenda when Global Accounting Alliance (GAA) tax leaders met for three days in Toronto in April 2016.

As businesses and economies globalize — and the world’s tax authorities increasingly join forces and share best practices — the GAA Tax Directors Committee sees a world of opportunity for its member organizations to collaborate.

Formed around 2005, the committee has become more active in the last several years, sharing best practices and information and collaborating on important international tax issues. The GAA is an alliance of 10 leading professional accountancy bodies, with a combined membership of 1 million across 180 countries.

For the committee’s annual in-person meeting in April, CPA Canada’s vice-president, Tax, Gabe Hayos, developed a jam-packed, two-day agenda of sessions on topics of mutual interest:

  • External stakeholders, including representatives of the Canadian Tax Foundation and three global CPA firms, were invited to engage in some discussions.
  • Vivian Leung, principal, Tax Education, outlined research being done toward enhancing the In-Depth Tax Program, and University of Waterloo ethics professor Karen Wensley shared new material on tax ethics being incorporated in CPA Canada’s tax education offerings.
  • CPAs Dan Jakubowicz and Helen Lakkotrypis presented CPA Canada’s initiative to develop a Best Practices in Tax checklist that helps practitioners minimize risk when delivering tax services.

A highlight was a frank and wide-ranging discussion with senior officials from the Canada Revenue Agency’s compliance programs branch. Among other topics, the group examined the CPA Canada-CRA framework agreement as a model for effective co-operation between tax authorities and key stakeholders. The group also shared Canadian and international views on best practices in dispute resolution, the global movement to curb tax base erosion and profit shifting, and the impact of digitalization on tax services, tax audit processes and the security of taxpayer data.

On the third day, the committee attended a tax policy conference hosted by CPA Canada, the C.D. Howe Institute and the Canadian Tax Foundation. A panel discussion on what works and what doesn’t in international tax reform featured the views of two committee members — Ian Young, chair of the GAA Tax Directors Committee and tax faculty technical manager with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, and Michael Croker, tax leader, Australia, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

“The three days were stimulating, informative and enormously worthwhile,” said Young, adding that CPA Canada had set the bar high for those organizing future sessions.