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Friday News Roundup 20.12.11: CERB regrets, MNP Mindbridge, carbon taxes and more

Wrapping up the odds and ends in this week’s Canadian accounting news

Author: Canadian Accountant

TORONTO, Dec. 11, 2020 – While the big news of this week is the imminent arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine in Canada, let’s review some of the odds and ends from the broader world of Canadian accounting: 

CERB regrets, I’ve had a few …

With the approach of tax season, the Canada Revenue Agency is sending out warning letters to recipients of the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB), warning of potential clawbacks. According to the CBC, a CERB “reckoning” is on the horizon in Atlantic Canada, while some CERB recipients (including a personal finance author!) say the eligibility requirements were unclear. (Confusion mostly exists for the self-employed and the concept of gross income less expenses.) 

The Green Party has asked the “Scrooge-like” CRA to suspend repayment requests until the new year. But the CRA says the Dec. 31 date in the letter is not a payment “deadline” but a preferred date to avoid impacting 2020 income tax returns. The National Observer was also critical of the “austerity schtick” of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation; for a different take on debt by some of Canada’s best-known economists, check out our five-part series, How will the Canadian economy recover from COVID-19? 

It’s worth noting that StatsCan published a report today saying that Canadian household finances are in better health this year thanks mainly to unprecedented government transfers which lifted overall incomes. Household debt as a percentage of disposable income is at 170.7%, below the $1.81 seen in the fourth quarter of 2019. 

Carbon tax hike part of Canada’s Climate Plan

Following up on its announcement in the Speech from the Throne, the governing Liberals announced their Climate Plan on Friday, which promises to exceed Canada’s commitments to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030 under the Paris Agreement. Speaking of the Throne Speech and fiscal update, here’s CPA Canada’s official response (we didn’t publish a news roundup last week): 

“CPA Canada applauds the federal government for its continued focus on the immediate needs of Canadians and the business community during this challenging time. Aside from the fiscal guardrails cited by the federal government, CPA Canada is disappointed that a fiscal anchor is not yet being established for greater accountability over the long-term. 

We believe that Canada’s finances must be managed in a transparent, accountable, disciplined and sustainable manner. To help accomplish this, CPA Canada urges the government to put forward a suitable fiscal anchor or rule. This will help instill the business confidence that will foster greater investment in the productive capacity of the country.” Charles-Antoine, president and CEO, Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada. 

Panama links to Ontario government fraud probe

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “Panama” (the country, not the song)? Was a time when you thought “drug lord.” Now you think “tax evasion.” Turns out that, in a juicy footnote in the case of a North York family caught up in a fraud probe, the family patriarch has a Panamanian driver’s licence and a permanent resident’s card. The man is accused of funnelling COVID-19 relief funds to various personal accounts while he was employed in IT by the Ontario government. KPMG is conducting the fraud investigation and the OPP is investigating the case, although charges have not been laid. 

MNP to use MindBridge AI for external audits

As if anyone in audit needed to be reminded of the growing influence of artificial intelligence, homegrown Canadian accounting firm MNP, the fifth largest firm in Canada, has announced a strategic supplier relationship with Canadian fintech firm Mindbridge. MNP will be using the Mindbridge AI platform for risk assessment and fraud detection in its external audits. 

“Working with MNP brings us closer to the future of audits and accounting,” said Eli Fathi, CEO of MindBridge, in a press release. “The future is automation, advisory, and AI. We’re proud to begin this journey with one of the most storied accounting firms in Canada. We’ll work closely with MNP’s team to continually evolve the functionality to provide them with ever increasing value.” 

By Canadian Accountant staff.

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