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January 11, 2022 Special Feature

Tax Section Highlights from National Hispanic Heritage Month

Alice Abreu, Temple University

Section membership has given me an eclectic group of friends who share my love of the tax law and many other things.

My peripatetic upbringing, after I emigrated from Cuba, makes me especially appreciative of the stability and continuity that membership in the Tax Section and regular attendance at Section meetings has provided. The Tax Section is not only a source of great CLE but also of source of great friendships and professional contacts. Thanks to the Section, I’ve had the good fortune to get to know Judge Juan Vasquez, the first Latinx person to serve on the U.S. Tax Court, and to celebrate the publication of his biography!

Hon. Juan F. Vasquez, U.S. Tax Court

People in Tax Podcast: Juan Vasquez, Parts 1 & 2

In Season 3, Episode 1, James Creech and Judge Juan Vasquez discuss his road to the Tax Court, the value tax lawyers bring to their clients, and the role of tax law in social justice. Listen to Part 1 here. Listen to Part 2 here.

Luz Arevalo, Greater Boston Legal Services

For the first time in my lifetime, I’m giving people good news about tax credits with the rebates and the enhanced child tax credit.

I recall admiring my father who was always good with numbers and could figure out the calculations on the 1040. The preparer was a good guy, but always in a hurry. My father would make him slow and explain the numbers. I would do VITA work when I was in law school, and now I am the explaining those forms with people like my father. In Massachusetts, we have a bill for undocumented taxpayers, who are considered residents and pay the same tax rate as any resident, to qualify for the EITC. We’re fighting to see this injustice corrected before I retire.

Hon. Juan F. Vasquez, U.S. Tax Court

Biography: From the Texas Cotton Fields to the United States Tax Court: The Life Journey of Juan F. Vasquez

The inspirational biography of Juan F. Vasquez, the first Hispanic American appointed to the United States Tax Court. The book depicts his journey surmounting numerous challenges such as poverty, manual labor, and discrimination. It explores his pursuit of education to build—with the support of family, friends, and mentors—a professional career serving family, community, taxpayers, and the tax system.

Judge Vasquez’s story demonstrates that one can excel in the practice of tax law and serve the community and taxpayers while doing so, regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, school pedigree, or geographic location. The overall message—that hard work, perseverance, and persistence in the face of adversity can lead to unimaginable opportunities—should resonate with all readers. Learn more here.

Armando Gomez, Skadden

What I appreciate most about the Tax Section are the deep friendships that I have developed with tax lawyers around the country.

I first came to know the ABA Tax Section when I served as a student editor of The Tax Lawyer at Georgetown University Law Center. While working in government after law school, I had the opportunity to engage with Tax Section leaders and started to attend Tax Section meetings, and I’ve been hooked ever since. It was a great honor to be selected as the first Hispanic American to serve as Section Chair in 2014–2015.

Jorge Castro, Miller & Chevalier Chartered

What I especially enjoy about Section meetings is the opportunity to see and catch up with government friends and colleagues.

I first began attending ABA Tax Section events when I was in law school, and I recall that the Section’s programming really piqued my interest in pursuing a career in tax law. Now, more than 20 years later, that programming remains excellent and relevant. I have been very fortunate to have had great tax jobs in Congress and at the IRS. Attending Section meetings is a great way to not only see tax friends socially, but also engage in fascinating discussions on the most pressing tax policy and regulatory topics of the day.

Pedro Corona, Procopio

People in Tax Podcast: Pedro Corona

In Season 2, Episode 29, James Creech and Pedro Corona discuss working in both the U.S. and Mexico, the differences between the two legal systems, and the challenges and opportunities of working in both countries. Listen here.

Hon. Elizabeth A. Copeland, U.S. Tax Court

[My mother] made sure I had a better foundation and drilled into me the importance of education and hard work.

During National Hispanic Heritage Month, I look back with pride at the inspiration I received from my mother. Her family spoke only Spanish in the home, and she had to repeat first grade for not having the English language skills to move on to second grade. If it were not for her, I never would have gone to college—certainly not law school—and I would not be a Federal Judge at this point in my career.

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