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There Are a Lot of Hungover, Newly Chartered Accountants in Canada Today

We like to cover the international scene as much as we can but it can be tough sometimes when NO ONE EMAILS US. If you’ve got some from north or the border, south of the equator or across an ocean, simply email us at [email protected] and we’ll spice things up around here with some international flair.

I only bring it up because this morning a Canadian reader informed us that today is a big day up north.

I’ve noticed the content on GC is nearly entirely CPA-focused, even though there’s plenty of readers from north of the border! I realise this is likely partially due to the fact that Canadian readers aren’t helping contribute enough. In an effort to help spread the love, I provide the following:

As a bit of background to our system, Canadian Chartered Accountants (CAs) must pass a single national final exam called the Uniform Evaluation (UFE). The UFE is a three-day national exam held once a year in September. The results are then released nearly three months later, usually on the first Friday of December (today!). It’s generally tradition for all the writers (and those that support them) to head out to the bar the night before to help ease the anxiety of checking the results in the morning, which leads to a lot of cheerful new CAs with hangovers today. This tough day of work at my firm (and many others) consists of champagne breakfast with colleagues, lunch with the partners and the office heading back to the bar by 3pm.

Congratulations to all the new CAs!

Scores are officially released at 12 pm so if you’re waiting to enjoy some Mimosas until you get the official word, that’s your choice but either way, you can use this post as a thread for your pre-noon-newly-minted-CA-partying purposes.

Comp Watch ’11: Big 4 Starting Salaries North of the Border

There’s been quite a bit of chatter out of Canada recently (Happy Thanksgiving, btw) and we now have some of the details for those receiving offers from 3 of the Big 4.

KPMG is offering $40,800 per year. They claim they will pay over time if you work over 40 hours per week.
PwC is offering $40,800 per year with a 0-15% bonus based on performance.
EY is offering $40,500 per year. No mentions of overtime.

This is for the Toronto offices and these figures are all in Canadian Dollars, which comes out to slightly below $40k USD but with the possibility of overtime, obviously the haul could be a lot more. If you’ve heard different numbers (or any Deloitte numbers at all) for these firms, get in touch or discuss below.

Is the IRS Going to War with Canada?

Wars with Canada turn out badly. While the Canadians are a seemingly peaceful people, content with their Tim Horton’s and their hockey, they seem to come out on top in a fight. Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold learned that lesson early on, and things went no better in 1812.

Now IRS Commissioner Shulman is baiting Canada for another war:

Premier David Alward, one of New Brunswick’s best known dual citizens, says he has been caught in the same broad net U.S. officials have cast to catch international tax evaders.


This prominent Canadian has been dragged into a U.S. tax nightmare the same way as thousands of other well-meaning expats:

Alward was born in Beverly, Mass., and spent his early years in the United States before his family settled in New Brunswick.

“I’ve had to scramble like thousands of other people,” Alward said, adding that he is complying with the U.S. demand for tax returns going back years and detailed disclosures.

The IRS is going after offshore tax violators in a big way. It’s natural that there are more in Canada than anywhere else because of geography and economics. But the IRS approach has been to enforce traffic safety by shooting jaywalkers.

While the US taxes its citizens on worldwide income, many, maybe most, expatriates have little or no U.S. tax liability. The foreign earned income exclusion and the foreign tax credit take care of that. But the long-obscure “FBAR” requirement to report foreign financial accounts over $10,000 threatens to impoverish many of these people anyway. The penalties for failing to file the FBAR Form, Form TD 09.22-1, are the greater of $10,000 or half the value of the account. The IRS is freely asserting these penalties even when little or no tax is due, and is even applying them to Canadian retirement accounts of U.S. expats like Alward.

The IRS has had two “amnesties” to draw expats into its loving arms, and the program has been a disaster for many ordinary folks who have signed up to try to clean up their records. Taxpayers living in Canada since childhood are presumed to be tax cheats, and penalized accordingly.

The IRS could learn a lot from states in handling these issues. The IRS “amnesties” have been progressively more restrictive, with higher penalties, making it more and more dangerous for folks with trivial paperwork violations to come out of the cold. Many states, in contrast, have standing deals where out-of-state taxpayers can clean up their tax histories by filing a few years of back tax returns, no questions asked. If the IRS would take this approach, and waive FBAR penalties for accounts under, say, $200,000 — and for all retirement accounts –maybe we won’t have to worry about the White House getting sacked again.

KPMG Suggests Toronto Let the Lawn Get Out of Hand a Bit, Wait Longer to Shovel Snow to Cut Some Spending

The City of Toronto needs some help with ideas of how to cut some spending in their budget. STAT. Enter KPMG. They have to find savings where they can and sometimes that means making suggestions that may not go over so well. For example, those perfectly manicured lawns you see around the city? That’s due to a weekly grass cutting regimen. And guess what? It’s gotta go:

The report […] says weekly grass cutting may not be necessary except for “high-use surfaces” such as playing fields. Public works chair Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong recently complained that a wet spring had grass and weeds growing out of control on city sites and called for more grass cutting.

Can you imagine if the City of New York let the grass go for an extra few days? You can just imagine the outrage. Anyone with a park view would be calling up 411 to complain that they can see “weeds” and “that jungle of a lawn” from their veranda on the 20th floor. “Absolutely shameful,” they’d say. Not sure if Toronto’s residents are so hung up on those sorts of details but it stands to reason that there are at least a few citizens who are meticulous about the city’s lawns.

Anyway, KPMG had another suggestion:

KPMG says the city could wait for more than five centimetres of snow before clearing parking lots and pathways, although there would be increased risk of “slip and fall claims.”

Of course Canadians are little tougher when it comes to the snow, so a couple more inches of snow is probably NDB. But with the offset of increased “slip and fall claims” this could be a net zero effect.

But the best savings idea of all? Those zoos and “farm attractions” that your kids love so much? Those should probably go too:

“Consider elimination of the zoo and farm attractions . . . Some zoo and farm attractions could be closed, however, these are enjoyed by many Toronto residents,” the report states.

Happy families out on a Sunday be damned! There’s a fiscal crisis to be averted! The city still has to decide whether to implement these suggestions but if they do, KPMG will have crying children to answer to. Ones that aren’t employees.

Close small zoos and Riverdale Farm, consultant suggests [Toronto Star]

You Can Add ‘Hospital Staff’ to the List of Positions That Can Do the Job of a Deloitte Auditor

A hospital in Winnipeg is suing Deloitte after an ATM scam went undiscovered for over ten years. Luckily some vigilant RN, janitor or cafeteria worker (it’s not clear from the article) noticed something amiss and alerted the proper authorities.

Police arrested a long-time hospital employee last year after she allegedly skimmed $1.5 million from automated teller machine (ATM) deposits between 2000 and 2010.

According to a lawsuit filed last week, the fraud was uncovered by hospital staff, not the auditor. The lawsuit accuses Deloitte & Touche of preparing financial statements not in accordance with “generally accepted accounting principles” and “materially misleading” the hospital about its financial position.

“MHC says that D & T owed it a duty in contract and owed it a duty of care not to act negligently or make negligent misrepresentations to MHC and to ensure that cash and liquid assets as reported in the financial statements were not materially misstated.”

According to the lawsuit, a former finance clerk deposited Worker’s Compensation Board cheques into the hospital operated ATM, understated the amount and pocketed the difference.

All this trouble and no one was even taken hostage. Not good, Green Dot.

Misericordia Health Centre files suit against auditor [Winnipeg Sun]

PwC’s Calgary Office Takes a Don’t Hate, Congratulate Stance on Furlough Fridays

More Big 4 news from the True North, as the Calgary office of PwC has been forced – due to ‘unique market conditions’ – to close the office five times over the summer to compete with the oil and gas companies that shut down every Friday.

Calgary Summer Office Closures

As we all know, recruiting and retaining our people is critical if we are to achieve our marketplace and firm goals. Calgary is one of the toughest markets in which to retain our people. The Calgary leadership believes that one of the key reasons is the extent of time off provided by companies in Calgary. Driven by the oil and gas companies, shutting down on Fridays in the summer is a practice followed by many companies in Calgary, including our clients.


For whatever reason, the email reads strangely apologetic, as if the leadership knows how much everyone loves working on Fridays and that they HAD NO CHOICE but to take these measures are absolutely necessary:

We believe that to be an employer of choice in Calgary we must respond to these unique market conditions with the result that, on Monday, May 30, Calgary will announce that the office will be closed on five Fridays over the course of the summer. Given the strategic importance of our Setting the Pace market segment priority, we think we must move in this direction, otherwise we will continue to be at a competitive disadvantage as we seek to grow the practice and attract and retain the people we need to do so. Going forward, we will assess the continuation of this policy in Calgary based on market conditions.

And finally, it was pointed out that everyone is aware that this is grossly unfair but A) it had to be done and B) everyone will be made right one way or another:

We also think it’s important to be transparent with you around this policy so that you understand the rationale. We appreciate that adopting these office shutdown days solely in the Calgary office gives them more benefits than the rest of the firm. Our view however is that we must adopt practices that are competitive and appropriate in each of our local markets and the Calgary market presents a unique situation.

We recognize that everyone is working hard and contributes to the firm’s success. That’s why we encourage everyone to take advantage of the various forms of flexibility available, particularly during our less busy times. These include Flexible Fridays, which will be announced next week for offices outside of Calgary, Flexible Time Away, our new Flexibility code and, of course, your vacation.

Yes, don’t forget that you could use five days of vacation as opposed to being given the non-option to stay home from work. That gets everyone back to Even Steven.