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Sunday News Roundup 22.04.03: Acronym soup – PBO, CRA, ISSB, CPAB and more 

Wrapping up the odds and ends from the past week in Canadian accounting news

Author: Canadian Accountant

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TORONTO, April 4, 2022 – This was a week in which Canadian media questioned the directions of provincial governments and the federal government, with politicians acting like the pandemic is over, the federal “Minister of Everything” preparing a critical federal budget, and the NDP leading provincial polling in Alberta. Without one story dominating the news cycle, the odds and ends from the past week in Canadian accounting news received a little more attention than usual. 

PBO: CRA hardly world class but getting better

It seems like there’s a million ways to spin every report that comes the federal Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO). This past week, Yves Giroux reported that the Canada Revenue Agency, despite its claims, is hardly a world class organization and its performance its distinctly average. The National Post published their take; the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star ignored the report. 

Buried within the report, however, were some tidbits to all the Canadian accountants engaged in wealth and estate planning, and even for the practitioners who are hired by SMBs. The CRA is doing better at focusing on “larger fish” such as corporations and HNW individuals instead of SMBs. (This will come as news to observers of the revenue minister’s failures at the Supreme Court.) But beware: The CRA is outperforming most countries in collecting those consumption tax inputs. 

CRA digital problems continue during tax season

Speaking of the Canada Revenue Agency, every tax season seems to bring horror stories of mistreated Canadians, or technical glitches that drive accountants bonkers. Luckily, we haven’t seen a catastrophic breakdown or cybersecurity failure this tax season (so far), but there are still issues. 

Jamie Golombek in the Financial Post reported this past week that Canadians had Better double-check your tax return if you've been using the CRA's Auto-fill. And Patrick Brethour in the Globe and Mail reported on the sorry case of one Canuck accused of CERB fraud: Fallout from 2021 CERB hack continues to affect taxpayers, CRA. The worst detail in the story? One day after talking to a reporter, Chris Chezepock had his bill reversed by the CRA, without explanation. 

Sustainability: ISSB publishes draft rules

The International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) released its first set of draft rules on climate change disclosure this past week. The Globe and Mail ran an article that covered some positive Canadian reaction from CPA Canada but missed some of the opposition from accounting academics and some standards setters

According to the Globe, “ISSB chair Emmanuel Faber is scheduled to visit Canada next week to meet with key officials and discuss plans for the Montreal office.” Without any evidence whatsoever, we are predicting that Charles-Antoine St-Jean, the recently departed president and CEO of CPA Canada, will be named the new head of the Montreal sustainability standards office. We could be wrong, of course; we have no horse in the race.

CPAB: Record number of enforcement actions in 2021

David Milstead at the Globe and Mail was first off the mark to report on the increase in enforcement actions by the Canadian Public Accountability Board (CPAB). While Canada’s audit regulator cracks down on accounting firms might be a little too strident a headline for an audit regulator that cannot name the firms it disciplines nor disclose the details of its inspections, the fact remains that CPAB had to launch a higher number of enforcement actions in 2021, as the quality of Canadian audits seems to be dropping despite the efforts of the regulator. 

We will have our own take later this week but here’s a few takeaways from the reporting. First, it’s been a bad year for auditors, as the PCAOB lowered the boom on both Deloitte and PwC in Canada. Second, only the Globe seems interested in the enforcement actions — we could not find another media outlet that was interested (pity). Yet (third), the number of readers in the Globe’s comment section expressing outright distrust of auditors seems higher than usual, and not a good sign for the profession. 

With Cause: Accountant fired for workplace recordings

“Short of such egregious instances, recording in the workplace irreparably breaches trust and goodwill and can result in dismissal for cause without severance,” writes Howard Levitt in the Financial Post, regarding a Canadian accountant who was fired for surreptitious workplace recordings. It’s an interesting case that was recently decided by the BC Supreme Court and you can read both the decision and a case summary online. 

Unfortunately, as is often the case, the decision messes up the plaintiff’s accounting credential, calling them a “certified professional accountant,” which is then repeated by both the article and the bulletin. The plaintiff is of course a chartered professional accountant and was a certified general accountant — hence, the “certified professional accountant” miscue. 

Quick Hits

Jamie Golombek: What tax changes might be coming up in the federal budget (Financial Post)
Cestnick: A federal budget wish list (Globe and Mail)
Frank Stronach: The serious need for a simplified tax code (National Post)
Report putting price tags on N.L.'s public assets delayed (CBC)
Are you really getting a deal at your favourite dollar store? (CBC)

By Canadian Accountant staff.

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