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Pittsburgh Chapter boasts full agenda. (Chapter News).

The Pittsburgh Chapter again prepared an ambitious schedule of meetings for the 2002-2003 program year. Through the end of January, half of the eighteen scheduled meetings had been held, consisting of six luncheon meetings, two evening meetings, and one full-day seminar. This report describes the first nine meetings of the Pittsburgh Chapter's current program year.

Lynn Bacon of Alcoa Inc. moderated for the Chapter's first luncheon meeting of the 2002-2003 season. The program topic was Federal Audit Issues/Update. Among the subjects discussed by the group were LMSB reorganization; CEO's signature on corporate tax returns; IRS treatment of merger/acquisition fees; employment tax issues; capitalization of repairs; FSC and TxT/grouping methodology; substantiation of FTC; qualified R&D; capitalized interest; IRS interest computations; CSX Case--FICA/FUTA claims; Competent Authority experiences; Experiences with Joint Committee cases; and TEFRA partnership election.

The September evening meeting featured Les Schneider of Ivins, Phillips & Barker who discussed Current Developments in Tax Accounting and Inventories. Les first reviewed what constitutes an accounting method change in light of recent cases and IRS guidance and then discussed Rev. Proc. 2002-9, which addresses various automatic consent procedures. He illustrated how an automatic consent procedure can be used to permit a taxpayer to decide to make a change after a taxable year is over, provided that a Form 3115 is filed with that prior year's return. Les next covered Rev. Proc. 2002-18, which applies to changes in methods of accounting that are initiated by the IRS on audit. After discussing numerous planning opportunities, Les talked about UNICAP and how taxpayers (in particular manufacturers who use the simplified production method) can often produce a favorable section 481(a) adjustment by changing their UNICAP method to the facts-and-circumstances method. This is because the simplified production method often overcosts the inventory by assuming that every section 263A cost is incurred ratably throughout the process on both raw materials and work-in-process, as well as finished goods. Les concluded his presentation by discussing the pros and cons of the IPIC method of accounting (i.e., simplified LIFO) that many taxpayers are considering in light of the 2002 IPIC final regulations. The final IPIC regulations became more attractive since these regulations permit the LIFO inflationary adjustment to be based on 100 percent of a published BLS index, as opposed to the 80 percent that was previously required.

Robert Johnson of the Buchannan Ingersoll law firm highlighted recent developments in employee benefits, retirement plans, health and other welfare plans and executive compensation in the Chapter's October luncheon meeting. Mr. Johnson's presentation included a review of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that increased ERISA penalties, the improved delinquent filer voluntary compliance program, proposed regulations on taxation of split dollar insurance arrangements, and SEC final rules on disclosure of equity-based compensation.

TEI National supplied the speaker for the October evening meeting when Fred Murray, General Counsel & Director of Tax Affairs, discussed many domestic and international legislative matters along with the estimated budgetary impact of many of those proposals. Fred provided his insights concerning many important corporate tax matters that are currently under consideration including the present state of the FSC/ETI dispute, potential changes to the foreign tax credit provisions, and the corporate tax shelter proposals.

For the November luncheon meeting, Ernst & Young LLP provided experts from its Tax Function Innovation team to discuss the latest trends in tax technology. Jay Levine and Jim Bowen explained that the pervasiveness of computing with new products such as electronic whiteboards and electronic paper notebooks would soon be a part of the tax function's world. Along with a review of the latest trends, the speakers discussed the process of analyzing the productivity of the tax function, maximizing resources to create optimum efficiency, and taking a realistic view of how technology can enhance efficiency. The speakers' conclusion was simple: "Technology, by itself, is rarely the answer."

The Pittsburgh Chapter conducted a full-day State and Local Seminar on November 21, 2002. The speakers included PricewaterhouseCoopers partners Maureen Pechacek, Dan Koppenhafer, Ray Chopper, and Greg West, as well as 8 PwC managers. Presentations covered anti-passive activity issues and reviews of state legislative, regulatory and judicial developments. There were also breakout sessions on sales and use taxes, franchise taxes and state tax accounting/FAS 109 issues.

At the December Holiday Lunch, the Pittsburgh Chapter presented its 2001-2002 Distinguished Service Award to Michael J. Murphy, former Executive Director of TEI. Although recipients of this award have generally been restricted to individuals who have resided in Western Pennsylvania, the Chapter wanted to recognize Mike's extraordinary contributions and close ties to the Pittsburgh Chapter. In addition to Mike, the Chapter was honored to also have as its principal speaker for this luncheon the current Executive Director of TEI, Timothy McCormally.

International Tax Update was the topic for the January luncheon meeting. Alan Fischl, Tax Partner in the Washington office of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, covered a number of international tax matters, including dual consolidated losses, stapled stock, worthless stock deductions and the S. 904 look-thru rules.

On January 23, 2003, TEI held a state and local tax issues luncheon. Jeff Blum of Deloitte & Touche LLP discussed 2003 budgetary issues in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia as well as important 2002 Pennsylvania judicial developments.

Over the past few years, the Pittsburgh Chapter has experienced a steady increase in meeting attendance, primarily due to the high-quality speakers that the Chapter continues to attract. The success of the Chapter meetings is considered to be one of the main reasons for the recent growth in Chapter membership, which has increased by more than 10 percent compared to one year ago.
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Publication:Tax Executive
Date:Mar 1, 2003
Words:932
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