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Midyear Conference demonstrates TEI's enduring value.

TEI's Midyear Conference exemplified the best about the Institute's education, networking, and advocacy activities, and how the different parts of "TEI's Vision 2005: Be Effective, Stay Effective" complement one another. After 55 years of holding conferences in Washington, it should surprise no one that the Midyear Conference deserves its reputation as a "first in class" affair. Nevertheless, it remains instructive to review how the Institute's key objectives were advanced by the conference.

First, the conference afforded tax executives an unparalleled opportunity to be current and stay current by attending sessions featuring the best practitioners and the most effective speakers in the business. Whether the topic was the new manufacturing deduction or FAS 109, recruitment and retention in 21st century tax department or state tax conformity, cross-border financing or the IRS's new Schedule M-3, or legislative developments at the federal and state levels, our speakers were engaging, entertaining, and informative. It's no wonder that year after year, TEI's educational programs are highly rated: dollar for dollar, there is no better source for continuing tax education.

Second, the conference provided tax executives with unequalled chances to interact with their peers around the world, as well as with colleagues from professional service firms and the government. That attending the conference would enable registrants to be connected and stay connected might be dismissed as a natural byproduct of any meeting. But it shouldn't be: Sixty years of experience has taught the Institute how to optimize its members' networking experiences, and while other programs offer features of the Midyear Conference, no one else brings it all together like TEI. From industry sessions that featured "full, frank, and open" exchanges of view, to a host of receptions held by our conference sponsors, to being up front and personal with top policy makers, to The Capitol Steps, to countless other opportunities to talk, share, and learn, the Midyear Conference gave TEI members the opportunity to build a sense of camaraderie and community that--despite (or perhaps because of) this age of Blackberries and 24/7 connectiveness--is regrettably growing rarer.

Third, the conference demonstrated, time and time again, that TEI is effectively giving its members a voice in important matters of tax policy and administration. Concerned about the practical implications of FASB's forthcoming exposure draft on uncertain tax positions? One session not only gave members a chance to hear from the FAS 109 Project Manager, but provided them the opportunity to provide candid, well-reasoned feedback during the Q&A period.

Wondering whether the IRS is sufficiently mindful of TEI's concerns about the costs and potential pitfalls of its corporate e-filing mandate? Sixty minutes in the room with IRS Commissioner Everson (especially when coupled with LMSB Bonus Sessions on the same topic) erased any doubt ... and also reinforced that TEI was truly representing its members in urging caution. (And if you missed the session live, you could catch it on C-SPAN throughout and after the conference.)

Anxious about the direction of federal tax reform (for example, whether the business community will be asked to "pay for" individual reform)? The keynote addresses by Treasury Secretary Snow, Senator Charles Grassley, and Jeff Kupfer of the President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform all aided our understanding of the politics, practicalities, and policy issues that need to be addressed as the process goes forward. They also provided a forum for individual members--and the Institute--to share ideas on what is necessary to make the U.S. tax system more competitive and less complicated. All these are examples of how TEI's conferences provide a direct avenue to having a voice.

All told, TEI's 55th Midyear Conference demonstrated that the Institute's objective of "being effective and staying effective" is not a marketing slogan but a prescription for the organization to still be vital and relevant into its seventh decade. This is especially the case when you consider the following other actions we took during the conference:

* We published the results of TEI's corporate tax department survey, featuring more than 12,000 tables and an extraordinary rich vein of information that can be mined for years to come. I offer the Institute's and my personal thanks to Lynn Jordan who led the survey project and was tireless to ensure that the presentation of the survey resulsts were both meaningful and easy to access. Special thanks also goes to Mary Lou Fahey for her assistance for keeping the project on track.

* Building upon the success of its five-year old chapter in Europe, we chartered a chapter in Asia and created a new region (Region IX) for its non-North American members. Congratulations to Bill Ramirez, the first President of the Asia Chapter; Steven Shee, the chapter's representative to the Institute's Board of Directors; and Tony Maggiore, the Institute's Vice President-Region IX.

* We introduced four new employees who have joined TEI since the Annual Conference--Eli Dicker (Chief Tax Counsel), Kate Dancy (Assistant Director of Conference Planning), Kelly Wilson (Communications Specialist), and DaKeia Williamson (Membership Coordinator). I welcome them to an already strong team committed to delivering high quality membership services in a cost-effective, timely manner.

Being the Voice of the Business Tax Community

TEI takes seriously its responsibility to represent its members and the business community in shaping and improving tax policy and administration. To be sure, the diversity of our membership sometimes prevents us from weighing in on specific proposals that would create "winners and losers" among us. By being involved and staying involved, however, by giving a voice to the concerns of the membership at large, we can improve the tax system as a whole. Here's a summary of some of the Institute's recent initiatives:

* Circular 230. We have worked with the Treasury Department and the IRS's Office of Professional Responsibility to refine the rules governing "practice before the IRS" and, specifically, the provision of tax advice. Amendments to Circular 230 were announced in December, while TEI acknowledges the desirability of enhancing the ethics rules to curtail the use of so-called marketing opinions, we have urged the IRS and Treasury to craft rules that minimize burdens and recognize the special role of in-house tax practitioners.

* Schedule M-3. We have worked with the IRS to fine tune both the requirements of and instructions to new Schedule M-3. We have also agreed to work with the IRS to collect and cull questions about the new form for postings on the IRS's website.

* Advance Pricing Agreements. We have recommended that the IRS "mend, not end" its advance pricing agreement program.

* Corporate E-Filing. We have weighed in on both the policy implications and the practicalities of the IRS's mandate that corporate returns be filed electronically. To this end, we have met with senior IRS officials (including Commissioner Everson and LMSB Commissioner Nolan) and with the working groups that have been established to implement the mandate. In these meetings, we have voiced support for the IRS's leveraging of technology (through e-filing and otherwise), but also voiced concern over how fast and how effectively the program can be implemented. I am delighted that nearly two dozen TEI members have volunteered to work with the IRS and the vendor community to identify--and solve--the problems associated with the mandate.

* American Jobs Creation Act. We have helped the IRS and Treasury set priorities for guidance under the 2004 tax act, and have been the conduit for questions and recommendations from our members, especially in respect of the new law's repatriation provisions and manufacturing deduction.

* Auditor Independence. We have filed comments with the PCAOB on its auditor independence rules.

* Tax Reform. Lastly, we have begun the process of identifying how TEI can most effectively participate in the coming debate on federal tax reform. An e-mail thread among members of the Board of Directors, committee chairs, and our chapter president spurred an unprecedented amount of activity--dealing with everything from the practical (the effect of a tax rate change on deferred taxes on financial statements) to the parochial (the effect of certain proposals on particular industries sectors) to even the corporeal (the duty of groups such as TEI to weigh in on the fundamental changes being debated). It's too early to predict what the President's Advisory Committee will recommend or what specific positions the Institute will take, but I have been heartened by the good will and energetic debate that has characterized the Institute's consideration of the issue.

In each of these endeavors, the Institute has worked to ensure that TEI is serving as a voice for, not merely an echo of, its members and their concerns. Please lend your efforts to our efforts. For TEI to be effective and stay effective, we need the involvement of as many members as possible. Please let us know how we're doing, either by calling me at 847.735.4687 or by sending an email to judith.zelisko@brunswick.com. By working together, and garnering the energy and enthusiasm of our members on issues that matter to us, we can build upon the successes of the Institute's first 60 years.

With Appreciation ...

Tax Executives Institute expresses its appreciation to the following firms that sponsored the 2005 Midyear Conference:

Platinum: ADP Tax Credit Services * Baker & McKenzie * Deloitte & Touche LLP * Ernst & Young LLP * KPMG LLP * Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP * McKee Nelson LLP * PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP * RIA * Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP * Taxware, L.P. * Vertex Inc.

Gold: CrossBorder Solutions * Ducharme McMillen & Associates, Inc. * Fenwick & West LLP * Foley & Lardner LLP * Liquid Engines, Inc. * NetProfit, Inc. * Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Silver: Alston & Bird LLP * Baker & Hostetler LLP * Jones Day * King & Spalding LLP * Miller & Chevalier Chartered * Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP * Thompson Hine LLP

Bronze: Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered * CBIZ Valuation Group, Inc. * Duane Morris LLP * Grant Thornton LLP * Jefferson Wells International Inc. * McDermott Will & Emery LLP * Wachovia Exchange Services, Inc.
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Title Annotation:Tax Executives Institute
Author:Zelisko, Judith P.
Publication:Tax Executive
Article Type:President's Page
Date:Mar 1, 2005
Words:1621
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