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Midyear conference highlights TEI's strengths ... and opportunities.

TEI's 56th Midyear Conference drew more than 600 tax executives. While the bulk of registrants live and work in the United States, the conference attracted members from Canada, Europe, and Asia. Those who travelled to Washington saw first hand the attributes that make Tax Executives Institute the premier association of tax professionals in the world.

First, there is nowhere else a Vice President of Tax or any other in-house tax professional can go to network with more peers than a TEI conference. The depth and breadth of "TEI talent"--and the extraordinary willingness of our members to share their insights and experiences (both good and bad)--are at once gratifying and inspiring. Whether you're talking about the moderators of our technical sessions or the give-and-take that exemplifies the 21 separate industry sessions, the effectiveness of the network (on topics as varied as section 404 material weaknesses to particular audit issues to motivating staff) is amazing.

Second, there is nowhere else a tax executive can go to learn from "the brightest and the best" of the practitioner community or, for that matter, from the most important government tax officials. At this year's Midyear, we benefitted from having Treasury Secretary John Snow, IRS Commissioner Mark Everson, and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas participate as keynote speakers. We may not always agree with what these senior officials say, but it is better to be informed and perhaps a bit uncomfortable than to be uninformed and (foolishly) content. Indeed, "content" is hardly the word that most tax executives would use to describe themselves in 2006--not with the vagaries of FAS 109, Sarbanes-Oxley, recent IRS enforcement thrusts, and a raft of other issues confronting them. For more than six decades, TEI has been a preeminent provider of in-house tax education because in-house tax professionals always leave our conferences more informed and able to cope with the challenges of the day than they were when they arrived. And they do so at a cost that is always competitive and often is as little as half or even a third of other programs.

Third, there is nowhere else a tax executive can go to participate, with a minimum of folderol and bureaucracy in top-flight advocacy efforts. At the Midyear Conference, the Institute's committees and task forces held meetings on several important projects, including Notice 2006-34, relating to cross-licensing arrangements; tax reform; and corporate e-filing. (See the separate stories in this issue on the first and third of these items; the second was a topic of my last column.) The Institute is always looking for interested members to help us identify appropriate subjects on which to engage, and I encourage you to share your ideas with us. (In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that, if you suggest a topic for action, our first response will likely be, "Great, I assume we can count on you to participate.")

One advocacy opportunity that emerged from the Midyear Conference is for TEI to become more involved in projects of the Multistate Tax Commission. Joe Huddleston, who has been the MTC's Executive Director for less than a year, addressed the conference on March 28, and discussed a paradigm shift in how the MTC will interact with the taxpayer community. Rather than waiting until the end of the rule-making process to seek input (after the regulations have been drafted and, at least potentially, positions have been locked in), the MTC will now reach out to business and the practitioner community at the beginning of the process. TEI commends the MTC for making this change (and openly discussing it), and I invite all interested members to let us know whether they want to participate in the process.

Membership Milestone: 6000 and Counting!

As reported in the January-February issue, TEI is in the midst of its first-ever membership initiative, whereby a tax executive who joins before June 30 of this year will receive a paid-up membership through June 30, 2007, for only $100--a savings of up to $400. To date, the results have been gratifying. For the first quarter of the year, 357 individuals submitted applications for membership, compared with 168 individuals during the same period of 2005, an increase of nearly 115 percent. If you aren't a member, I urge to consider joining between now and the end of June. (The $100 fee you'll pay will be offset by the amount you save in attending your first conference or seminar.) If you're already a member, please urge your colleagues to join. We can always benefit from "more smart tax people in the room," and I'm confident that they will benefit, too.

The upswing in membership applications--plus the continuing growth of our European and Asia Chapters--has resulted in the number of TEI members surpassing 6,000 for the first time. It's not all about numbers, of course, but the expansion of our membership is a tribute to the good work of our chapter membership committees and other volunteer leaders. And while it's not all about the numbers, it is sometimes important to count. Thus, when we crossed the 6,000 threshold, we took the time to count the number of countries, from which our members come--25. That's right, from one country in 1944 to 25 in 2006. For your edification, here's the list (in addition to the United States):

Australia Belgium Canada Denmark England France Germany Hong Kong Indonesia Ireland Italy Japan Luxembourg Mexico Netherlands Scotland Singapore South Africa Spain Sweden Switzerland Taiwan U.A.E. Zimbabwe

Two more items relating to membership. Beginning in January, TEI has been collecting feedback from new members at three points in their first year of membership--upon joining, after six months, and on their first-year anniversary. Hence, the Institute developed three web-based surveys, and is contacting new members to ask them to complete short questionnaires. The first survey deals with why the members joined and their experience with the application process; the second with how well the Institute (including at their chapter) welcomed them; and the third (essentially) with whether the Institute was fulfilling their expectations in respect of networking, education, and advocacy. (A fourth survey, which will be sent to non-renewing members, will seek feedback on what the Institute might have done to retain the individual as a member.)

So far, we've sent surveys to two groups of new members (those admitted in January and February). Of those responding, more than 90 percent had applied for membership online, and slightly more than 60 percent characterized the application process as smooth, with another 35 percent saying the process was acceptable. The remaining group said it was "cumbersome, but tolerable," but fortunately none characterized as it as "intolerable."

Second, I want to provide a status report on our 2006 Membership Satisfaction Survey, which was distributed to the membership in January. The survey was closed in late February with a total of 1,561 usable responses--a 27-percent response rate, which represents a typical response rate. A narrative summary of results was distributed to the Board of Directors in connection with the Midyear Conference; it contains key results as well as selected comparisons to important segments of membership, and, additionally, comparisons to the 2002 results where pertinent. It also includes a brief section outlining conclusions and recommendations.

We're reviewing the responses to the narrative questions and will prepare a summary for publication in The Tax Executive. Additionally, the staff will follow up by telephone with the members who asked to be contacted to discuss their concerns. Returning to my earlier point about getting more people involved in TEI's committee activities, we have already reached out to the nearly 200 members who expressed an interest in learning more about becoming involved in committee work. (It may not be possible to accommodate all of the respondents' wishes, but efforts will be made to draw more members into active involvement on our committees.) The complete results, stratified by chapter, will be distributed in connection with the 2006 Leadership Seminar.

Have a good spring.

Michael P. Boyle

International President
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Title Annotation:Tax Executives Institute
Author:Boyle, Michael P.
Publication:Tax Executive
Article Type:President's page
Date:Mar 1, 2006
Words:1338
Previous Article:TEI comments on Phase II currency initiative: May 7, 2004.
Next Article:Singapore, IRS Oversight Board, U.S. liaison meetings focus of TEI's winter activities: institute also comments on proposed Canadian changes.
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