TaxFind Online: Some Tricks of the Trade

TaxFind Online is the Canadian Tax Foundation's web-based publications database: it contains the Canadian Tax Journal; the three newsletters (Canadian Tax Focus, Canadian Tax Highlights/Faits saillants en fiscalité canadienne, and Tax for the Owner-Manager/Actualités fiscales pour les propriétaires exploitants); the annual conference reports (draft papers are available before publication of the final report); and the papers from regional conferences. CTF monographs, The Arnold Report, and conference slides are not included in TaxFind Online. A new tutorial (with screen captures) in both PDF and video form was posted in January on the CTF website (www.ctf.ca/CTFWEB/FR/TaxFind/TaxFind_Online_Tutorial.aspx). Some best-practice suggestions for using TaxFind Online are given below.

Searches

Users often search in TaxFind Online in the same way they search in Google--they enter a particular phrase; they click on the search icon; and then, to their surprise, they find a jumble of hundreds of results in which the most important ones may be buried far down the list. Why doesn't this work? The reason is that this type of search pulls all of the documents in which each word in a phrase appears somewhere in a document--including documents in which the words are not used together as a phrase. A fix for this problem is to add quotation marks (for example, "Canadian-controlled private corporation"); this method returns only the documents that contain the exact phrase.

Using the Google approach could also miss key documents because TaxFind Online does not automatically broaden the search to include variants of search words. In particular, a search for a single word will not find documents containing only its plural; a search for a given word will not find documents containing the word in combination with prefixes or suffixes; and a search for one spelling of a word will not find alternative spellings. To address this problem, adding an asterisk to a word--before, after, or in the middle--will indicate that the search should include variants of the word containing extra characters. For example, to extend a search for "partner" to include "partners" and "partnerships," enter "partner*" in the search box; to extend a search for "CCPC" to include "non-CCPC," enter "*CCPC"; and to extend a search for "macdonald" to include "mcdonald," enter "m*cdonald." (Note that in these examples one does not actually need to enter the quotation marks, although doing so will not create a problem.)

A broader search for word variants can be accomplished with a dollar sign. This method generally extends the search to synonyms and related words, and it can be useful if the user is uncertain about the appropriate search term (perhaps because it is not a word commonly used in the Act). For example, a search for "negligence$" also brings up documents containing "oversight" and "carelessness."

Printing and Saving

To print part of a document, users often try the same approach that they use to print part of a normal web page--they highlight a section, they go to File > Print in the browser, and then under "page range" or "print range" they choose "selection." Unfortunately, not all browsers will cooperate with TaxFind Online in this way--in Chrome, for example, nothing prints at all, and in Firefox two dozen blank pages may be printed before the selection of interest. However, since this method works in Internet Explorer, users who are indifferent among browsers can choose to use that one.

A more generally applicable approach is to highlight the section of interest, click "Select Text" in the TaxFind menu, wait for the message "Added to Clipboard" to appear, click on "Clipboard" to view the selected text, and then print that page. For a soft copy, the text from that page can be e-mailed or cut and pasted into the user's word processor. To print an entire article rather than just selected text, use a similar approach but substitute "Tag Doc" for "Select Text."

CD Version

The CD version's advanced search option offers auto-complete of a search word and a display showing alternative extensions of the word with the number of hits for each; offsetting these advantages is a reduced update frequency (six months rather than monthly) and less choice in query formats.

Nicole D'Aoust
Canadian Tax Foundation, Toronto
ndaoust@ctf.ca

Matthew Zorzi
Toronto
matt.zorzi@gmail.com

Canadian Tax Focus
Volume 3, Number 1, February 2013
©2013, Canadian Tax Foundation