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It's great to be on board.

Editor's Note: Eli J. Dicker joined TEI's staff as Chief Tax Counsel in March 2005, after stints at Capitol One, KMPG, and the Internal Revenue Service's Office of Chief Counsel. A graduate of Northeastern University School of Law and New York University's LL.M. (Taxation) program, he leads TEI's advocacy efforts. Eli can be reached or 202.638.5601 x 354.

Columns can serve many purposes, among them, informing, provoking, challenging, and questioning. As this space is initiated, my goal is to--at times--do all of these things, focusing primarily on the march (mostly forward, sometimes backward, and often sideways) of tax law and policy as well as on Tax Executives Institute's role in the process.

So, where to start? Tax reform? Tax gap? E-filing? Circular 230? Those topics--all of which have commanded TEI's time of late--would be natural, obvious choices. Instead, I thought this inaugural effort should focus on some of the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead for the Institute, and how we are preparing to meet them.

For more than 60 years, TEI has stood for balanced and effective advocacy on behalf of its membership. At its core, this mission will not change. Yet the legislative and regulatory environment within which tax executives and their companies operate has changed seismically.

One need only look to near-term history (for example, Enron, WorldCom, HealthSouth, Sarbanes-Oxley, Big 4, and the PCAOB) to observe how external events have complicated the challenges confronting tax professionals. No longer is it sufficient for tax professionals to be solely conversant in the Code to do their job effectively. Now, to be effective, and to stay effective, tax professionals must be fluent in a whole new range of initials, acronyms, codes, and regulatory regimes that previously were not in their province or on their radar screen. These include the FASB, PCAOB, SEC, IASB, OPR, and OECD, among many others.

It is within this regulatory labyrinth that TEI must define and successfully execute on its advocacy mission. To do so, the organization must continually place itself in the shoes of its members, asking--

* Are our educational offerings, in terms of content, format, and location, directly responsive to the needs of TEI's members and their staffs, enabling then to better execute their jobs, now?

* Do the comments and positions the Institute advances best serve the needs of our membership as a whole?

* Is our programmatic mix as finely tuned as it can be?

* Are there underserved areas where TEI's presence could be improved while being top-heavy or saturated in others?

These are the considerations that will help frame our efforts and energy, and help drive the identification of opportunities to provide continual value to our members.

Of course, execution against our advocacy mission does not stop at our shores. TEI's fast-growing international presence--highlighted by our chartering a chapter in Asia earlier this year--offer new opportunities to broaden our activities and membership beyond North America and even Europe and thereby enhance our effectiveness. In the coming weeks and months, TEI will strive to adapt our current rules and procedures (or develop new ones) to support our newest members and chapters and to facilitate their growth. Those efforts will have a singular focus--maximizing TEI value to its members.

To do so, however, we must learn the intricacies of European or Asian tax advocacy. What are the processes, rules, regulations and mores that govern doing "tax" business overseas? What avenues are open to engage in advocacy or merely conversation? What is the nomenclature we must learn and the cultural nuances that must be recognized and respected? Indeed, both short- and long-term success may well come less from legislative or regulatory "wins," but from establishing an effective framework--in terms of both people and process--that can enhance the Institute's ability to be effective and successful advocates.

In the Next Issue: Sherpa or Flamethrower?--Finding the Right Balance
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Title Annotation:Tax Executives Institute's role in the process
Author:Dicker, Eli J.
Publication:Tax Executive
Date:May 1, 2005
Previous Article:"Corporate Tax Audit Survival" by Cliff Jernigan.
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