Locating Federal Budget Information
by Lakeshore Bookkeeping Services
(Prince George, BC, Canada)
The IBPC offers webinars to members and non-members on a regular basis.
I watched an IPBC webcast Tax Online: Take your sleuthing to new heights from a live webinar held in early March, 2010 that I was unable to attend. It was all about tax sleuthing and how to find what you need from the government of Canada websites.
Here are my notes from this practical webcast.
The throne speech can be found at www.speech.gc.ca
The Department of Finance
One website reviewed was the Department of Finance - www.fin.gc.ca.
It's on this site that you can find the latest information on the federal budget first hand ... instead of the watered down version presented by the press.
The latest March 2010 budget information was posted there soon after it became public.
There are different ways you can look at the budget information ...
The Quick Index is useful as it presents EVERY change proposed in the budget ... not just the popular ones the media covers.
The Budget Brief gives commentary.
The Budget Plan presents a table of contents and is organized into chapters ... just like a book.
Other good stuff on this site:
The Department of Finance News Releases have links at the bottom of each page which presents more detailed coverage of the material released.
You can also find Legislative News Releases, Proposals and Explanatory Notes which present draft legislation, current legislation, and historical legislation. These are technical papers that give information to professionals and politicians. To read them, you have to be up on your acronyms!
The Budget Process in Canada
The IPBC webinar explained briefly the budget process in Canada ... which is also on the Department of Finance website.
Here is a quick overview.
The Finance Department proposes a budget which creates draft legislation. This draft goes to parliament and must be approved by the House of Commons and the Senate.
Once approved, the Justice Department (another great website www.justice.gc.ca) houses the up-to-date and current online Income Tax Act (ITA) and Regulations (at www.laws.justice.gc.ca) while the CRA (www.cra-arc.gc.ca) administers the ITA. CRA does not create the law.
Update January 2013 ... With three accounting standards - ASPE, US GAAP and IFRS, learn when you are required to report/incorporate changes in tax laws and rates in my chat on Accounting Concepts and Principles.
Other Useful Government Websites
Some other websites discussed were:
Office of the Auditor General of Canada - www.oag-bvg.gc.ca .
The 2009 Fall report discussed income tax legislation in chapter 3. An item of interest is that there have been no technical amendments since 2001 ... we are behind.
As a result, the Justice Department will now start including pending legislation that has not passed yet in grey print in the Income Tax Act housed on their site. Previously, professionals purchased publications that tracked this. As they are 7 years behind, this will be an ongoing work in progress.
Today in The House is located at www2.parl.gc.ca/houseofchamberbusiness/ChamberHome.aspx and is worth a look to see what is happening in the House of Commons.
Legis Info is a new research tool by the Library of Parliament that enables you to find information on legislation before parliament. It is located on the parliament website (www2.parl.gc.ca/Sites/LOP/LEGISINFO).
Previously I mentioned the Department of Justice website. While touring through the online copy of the ITA, Eileen Reppenhagen the presenter, visited section 78 - Unpaid Amounts.
Section 78 deals with how long you can wait after not paying someone before you have to add it back to income.
The ITA can be viewed in a few different ways - Status by Title and Regulations by Title are just two of them.
Eileen also showed how you can change the section number in the browser path as a quick way to get to the section of the ITA you are interested in.
The next site we visited was CanLII - Canadian Legal Information Institute (www.canlii.org).
CanLII is a non-profit organization that has taken on the task of coordinating all Canadian law accessible for free on the internet.
You will find a table of contents for federal legislation. It will provide a stable link to the last version.
You can find former titles and citations as well as all the different tax courts in Canada including the Tax Court of Canada. Here is where you will find a listing of all the tax court cases.
Eileen discussed one recent tax case from January 2009 - Lipson vs. Canada. The case dealt with interest deductibility and general anti-avoidance.
The last government website covered was the Canada Revenue Agency site. It is a large site and one bookkeepers use often ... so I'll cover this in a separate posting in the future.
If you would like to improve your tax literacy, visit the presenter's website at TaxDetective.ca. Select the navigation button called "Tax Literacy" to find a wealth of information and links.