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August 30, 2022 From the Chair-Elect

Looking to the Future

Wells Hall

Having the opportunity to Chair the Section of Taxation of the American Bar Association would be the highlight of any tax lawyer’s career. Certainly that is the case for this farm boy from North Carolina. Thank you for the opportunity to serve in this capacity for the 2022–23 year.

The Leadership Team

Our Section leadership team consists of a group of highly qualified and dedicated Officers, Council Directors, and members of the Section staff.


I am privileged to have the advice and counsel of my longtime friend Scott Michael as Chair-Elect of the Section for the coming year. We are both committed to making sure that the Section continues to provide value to its members and addresses the needs of the growing tax bar. Thanks, Scott, for your support for our “bodacious” long- and short-term goals for the Section. Our Vice Chairs are each committed to the leadership of the Section in their roles of responsibility over Membership, Diversity, and Inclusion (Caroline Ciraolo, Vice Chair), Committee Operations (Mary McNulty, Vice Chair), Continuing Legal Education (Tom Greenaway, Vice Chair), Publications (Roberta Mann, Vice Chair), Pro Bono (Tony Infanti, Vice Chair), Government Submissions (Lisa Zarlenga, Vice Chair), and Administration (David Wheat, Vice Chair). Christine Speidel is the Secretary, and Lany Villalobos is the Assistant Secretary of the Section. Armando Gomez and Julie Sassenrath will continue as our Section Delegates to the House of Delegates of the ABA. Former Section Chair and Delegate to the House, Dick Lipton, is now a member of the ABA Board of Governors.

Council Directors

Each of our Council Directors has responsibility for two or three Section Committees, often including Committees they formerly chaired. We welcome five new Council Directors for three year terms, and they have stepped up to assume responsibility for Committees as follows: Leslie Book (Teaching Tax, Tax Policy and Simplification, Exempt Organizations), Scott Levine (Affiliated and Related, Corporate Tax, Employment Taxes), Stephanie Lipinski Galland (Energy & Environmental, SALT), Mary Slonina (Fiduciary Income Tax, Closely Held Businesses, S Corporations), and Elizabeth Stevens (Transfer Pricing, Financial Institutions & Products, Insurance Companies).

Council Directors in the second or third year of their terms and their Committee responsibilities are as follows: John Colvin (Civil & Criminal Tax Penalties, Court Procedure & Practice), Rachel Kleinberg (FAUST, Tax Exempt Financing), Robb Longman (Real Estate, Sales, Exchanges & Basis, Young Lawyers Forum), Susan Morgenstern (Pro Bono & Tax Clinics, Tax Collection, Bankruptcy, & Workouts), Vanessa Scott (Employee Benefits, Estate & Gift Taxes), James Creech (Individual & Family, Tax Practice & Technology, formerly Tax Practice Management), Cathy Fung (Capital Recovery & Leasing, Diversity, Tax Accounting), Jennifer Breen (Administrative Practice, Standards of Tax Practice), Jennifer Alexander (Partnerships & LLCs, Investment Management), and Summer LePree (Foreign Lawyers Forum, USAFTT).

Our Section Staff

In the Fall of 2021, we welcomed Haydee Moore, formerly Director of Meetings and a veteran member of our Staff, as our new Section Director. Haydee has seamlessly transitioned to her new role and provided effective leadership and management for our capable Section Staff. Our leadership team further depends on Ty Hansen (Associate Director) Sarah Deschauer (Director, Meetings), Todd Reitzel (Director, Publishing), Chris Tank (Director, CLE), Meg Newman (Chief Counsel), Genevieve Borello (Director, Membership, Marketing, and Diversity), and all of the members of the staff for their tireless efforts and full time support of the operations of the Section.

Section Meetings

It was great to see everyone at the Hybrid 2022 May Tax Meeting in Washington, DC, after six straight virtual meetings spanning the pandemic, from May 2020 through February 2022, The quality of the live committee CLE meetings, the Tax Bridge to Practice programming, the receptions, and the Saturday plenary session showcased the Section at its best for all who attended in person or virtually. There was record participation by members of the IRS Chief Counsel’s office. The participation by the IRS in our programs and panels is invaluable to our members and takes the quality of the dialogue to another level.

The virtual meetings during the pandemic and the hybrid May Meeting with the virtual option allowed programming to reach many Section members who were unable to travel and attend in person. We believe that virtual programs and offerings have and will allow the Section to penetrate the growing CLE market and reach more Section members.

We are looking forward to seeing everyone at our 2022 Fall Tax Meeting at the Hyatt Regency Dallas, October 13–15. Registration is open now, 2022 Fall Tax Meeting Registration. You can also register for a new virtual event for exempt organizations practitioners, the Virtual 2022 Fall Tax Exempt Organization Symposium on September 8, 2022. While the 2022 Fall Meeting will be in person with audiorecordings available (no live streaming), the current plan is to convert future Fall Meetings to entirely-virtual starting in the Fall of 2023. We will host the 2023 Midyear Tax Meeting at the Hilton San Diego (February 9–11, 2023) and the 2023 May Tax Meeting at the Marriott Marquis in Washington DC (May 4–6, 2023).

Our Goals for the Coming Year

The Officers and Council Directors recently participated in our traditional Summer Leadership Meeting to set our goals for the upcoming year. These meetings have been virtual by necessity since 2019. Here are just a few of the initiatives that our leadership team has identified and plans to implement this year:

  • Continue to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion in furtherance of the ABA’s Goal 3 and make sure it is sustainable, through the full funding of the Loretta Collins Argrett Fellowships Program and our other diversity initiatives.
  • Grow our Section membership to include all (not just some) of the growing tax bar.
  • Maintain the involvement of student members and encourage them to renew as full members as they matriculate and get fully involved in the practice of tax law.
  • Continue to engage the Section members who attended their first meetings while they were virtual or hybrid.
  • Expand remote and virtual CLE opportunities for all Section members through webinars, podcasts, and other media, including co-branding CLE programs with state and local bar tax sections.
  • Expand participation of IRS personnel, state tax administration personnel, and enrolled agents in our Section activities.
  • Raise the profile of our committee chairs and mobilize them to provide proactive leadership that supports member recruitment and retention.
  • Solicit more current and topical content for The Tax Lawyer and our other tax publications.
  • Continue to grow participation in the Section’s pro bono “pillars,” such as Tax Court Calendar Call Program, Adopt-A-Base, VITA, Low Income Tax Clinics, the Christine Brunswick Public Service Fellowships, and the role of Section members in providing tax assistance to disaster survivors, elderly taxpayers, taxpayers eligible for the expanded child tax credit, and service members.
  • Expand our pro bono program through new pilot programs, partnerships with other tax-related organizations focused on pro bono work and continue to provide feedback barriers to access to justice for low-income and unrepresented taxpayers.
  • Increase the Section’s influence on the regulatory process through the quality and volume of our government submissions.

These are ambitious goals, but our leadership team is up to the task!

Section Membership and the Growing Tax Bar

While the number of tax lawyers is increasing with the demand for tax services, there has been a concerning contraction in the number of Section members and meeting registrations. This is not a good trend. The reduction in numbers of both new and renewing members may be partly attributable to economic uncertainty during the pandemic or members simply not realizing they failed to renew; but, in reality, tax practitioners appear to be in greater demand than ever and the Section’s services should be more important. The Section is taking steps to reverse this trend by better penetration of our market to support expansion of our membership roster and restoration of our meeting registrations to former levels and beyond. More Section members will bring new energy to the Section, make possible continued expansion of the Section’s pro bono projects, comment efforts and other activities, and provide an even deeper talent pool for the future leadership of the Section.

Committee Operations—The Heart and Soul of the Section

The Section leaders recognize that the lifeblood of the Section is the active involvement of the substantive committees. The committees are the key to ensuring that the Section provides value to all of its members, retaining current members, and attracting new members.

Garrett Morris is famous for his Saturday Night Live catchphrase while portraying Chico Escuela, an all-star professional baseball player from the Dominican Republic, in an exchange with a character played by John Belushi: “Baseball has been very, very good to me.” Mary McNulty, Vice Chair of Committee Operations, and our entire leadership team know the value of Section membership and involvement in committee activities as our own involvement in the Section “has been very, very good” to each of us. Many of you are quite aware of the value of Section membership to your practice and career.

There is no better way for Section members to improve their practice skills and stay on top of their game than to get involved with a Section committee, participate in committee meetings, get involved in government submission projects, and share their knowledge and expertise with other like-minded tax professionals. Hopefully, each Section member will act as an ambassador for the Section and encourage new lawyers, as well as former Section members who have dropped their memberships, to join or re-engage with the Section.

The Section is also exploring the concept of a new Corporate Counsel Committee as a counterpart to the Teaching Taxation Committee, to attract more participation in the Section by in-house counsel and corporate tax directors. The Corporate Counsel Committee would have its own meetings and programs and co-sponsor joint programs with other committees. It would also coordinate tax programs with the Corporate Counsel Committees of other ABA Sections, including the Litigation Section and the Business Law Section. If readers would be interested in helping to establish this new committee, please contact me [email protected] or Mary McNulty, Vice Chair of Committee Operations [email protected].

Credit Where Credit Is Due

In closing my first column in Tax Times and on behalf of the entire Section, I want to express thanks to Julie Divola for her leadership of the Section during the past year, ensuring a successful transition from all virtual meetings during the pandemic to the new era. Her contributions include the following:

Established the Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (JDEI) Endowment Fund to support the Section’s DEI efforts and to further diversify the tax bar. The JDEI Fund will provide financial support for the Argrett Fellowships.

Worked closely with Caroline Ciraolo in the inaugural year of the Vice Chair position in charge of Membership, Diversity, and Inclusion and implemented an organizational chart under that position.

Provided thought leadership and direction for selecting the first class of Argrett Fellows who will participate in Section activities for 2022–2025 along with new classes of Argrett Fellows to be added each year.

In a year when everyone struggled to survive the pandemic, Julie provided the leadership and direction to keep the Section moving through two virtual Fall and Midyear Tax Meetings and our first hybrid in person and virtual May Tax Meeting. Julie’s service as Chair will have a permanent and lasting impact on the Section in future years. The Section is indebted to her passion and perseverance in leading the organization to new heights.

The Section leadership looks forward to a great year for the Section and all tax lawyers. We believe we are up to the challenges that we face and accept them with excitement and optimism for the future of the Section!

Wells Hall

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, Charlotte, NC

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