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Season's greetings ... and perennial thanks.

The end of the year is an apt time to look back with gratitude to all those who contributed to Tax Executives Institute's success during the last year and to look forward with hope and anticipation to 2005. Gratitude, of course, is something properly not confined to a holiday, a season, or a year. Hence, as we turn the calendar on TEI's 60th year, it is fitting to begin by thanking, in absentia, the founders of TEI. In 1944, fifteen tax executives in New York had the audacity to think that by forming TEI they could vivify what Alexis De Tocqueville had witnessed a century before during his tour of the still-young United States: groups of Americans forming voluntary associations to accomplish together what they could not achieve alone. That TEI thrives today--not only in the United States, but in Canada, Europe, and Asia--is a testament to their vision.

Past Presidents Do Us Honor

It is also a testament to their hard work and that of their successors. Our next thank you, therefore, is to men and women in the tax community who have worked tirelessly to advance the organization. Everyone who attended TEI's 59th Annual Conference in New Orleans had the opportunity to meet 22 of the Institute's presidents--from incumbent Judy Zelisko to 90-year-old Morris Rinehart. That so many past presidents chose to attend the conference demonstrates how special TEI is to them and, I daresay, how special they are to TEI. (May we all be as spry and good humored as Morris who began his remarks to the conference by saying, "I'm happy to be here. Of course, at my age, I'm happy to be anywhere.")

While singling out past presidents, let me add one whom the Institute honored in New Orleans--Betty Wilson of the Arizona and St. Louis Chapters, who led the organization in 2000-2001. We congratulate her on her election to Honorary Membership.

Chapter Leaders and Committee Chairs

Thanks also go to the leaders of TEI's local chapters, who recruit and mentor new members, plan monthly meetings, and generally keep TEI on track. One example of the chapters' good work is the Philadelphia Chapter's December 1 meeting--its annual TEI-IRS Forum. The meeting featured both informed presentations by several IRS officials and spirited question periods. It also afforded the Philadephia Chapter, in partnership with the Harrisburg Chapter, the opportunity to show its commitment to the future by presenting scholarships to the following students: Kristen Hartman and Jane Hertzler of Villanova University; Christina Moore of Widner University; Catina Scafidi of Drexel University; Doyle Brown, Jr. of Delaware State University; and Jeffrey Schrader of Philadelphia University. Congratulations to these students for their unstinting efforts, and best wishes to them for professionally fulfilling careers in taxation. Special thanks to Bob Wederbrand for planning the TEI-IRS forum and to Philadelphia Chapter President Sam Spragins and Harrisburg Chapter President Dave Meyer for their leadership and support.

Our Institute committees also merit thanks. Since the Annual Conference, for example, Neil Traubenberg's Federal Tax Committee planned a seminar on financial accounting developments that drew a record crowd for a two-day TEI program (a sell-out at 350!), and promises to follow that program up with outstanding sessions at next April's Midyear Conference. The Federal Committee will have friendly competition from our other committees, including the International Tax Committee, whose annual tax course in Indianapolis in mid-December rounded out TEI's 2004 educational year. Our thanks to John Herson and the International Tax Committee's vice chairs for their excellent work on this year's offering.

One aside about our FAS 109 seminar: We have heard from some members that the program's success was due in large measure to its location--Las Vegas. While Caesars Palace proved popular with many registrants, my personal belief is that it was the subject matter that made the program compelling. (As an Iowa native, I feel qualified to say that a 2004 seminar on FAS 109 would have drawn exceptionally well even if it had been held in a cornfield.) That said, we thank those of you who let us know your preferences ... for locations and subject matter.

Advocacy Encomiums

TEI's committees also deserve thanks for their outstanding efforts on the Institute's advocacy efforts. Whether the topic is the Institute's annual liaison meetings in Ottawa (held in December), our amicus brief in the Cuno v. Daimler-Chrysler case involving state tax incentives, the defeat of the proposal to have CEOs sign tax returns, or our comments to the OECD on attribution of profits--to name just a few recent items--TEI is able to advance the corporate community's priorities because of the dedication of its committee chairs and members.

I offer thanks not only to those of you who contributed to our technical activities, but those who let us know how we were doing. Certainly, we like it when you say we got it right, but we also need to know when you think we got it wrong. From its founding in 1944, TEI has operated on the principle that it is better to be at the table, trying to effect positive change, than to absent ourselves entirely from particular projects or initiatives. That said, silence sometimes sends a very powerful message, and the diversity of TEI's membership sometimes prevents the organization from becoming engaged. And, sometimes, we may just have to "agree to disagree." Effective advocacy truly requires a delicate balance, one subject to continual recalibration, and we thank those of you who help us get it right. Please send your feedback to Judy Zelisko ( or me (

Thanks for Helping Us Stay Connected

One initiative that occupied a great deal of Institute time (and resources) this past year is TEI's new website. Launched in late August, the site is growing more robust--and attracting more users--every week. Thanks are due many people for their efforts in helping TEI get and stay connected digitally. Our Advanced Technology Committee, the website administrators in each chapters, and our staff all deserve credit for their dedication and persistence.

Thanks are also owing the membership at large for its patience as we designed, launched, and are now perfecting the site. We thank you for your forbearance and for not permitting your well-understood (and, indeed, shared) frustration in the face of delays and bugs and glitches not drive you away. Please keep your ideas and your comments coming.

Speaking of TEI's staff, our newest addition--Kelly Wilson--is focusing nearly all her efforts on the website. As the Institute's Communications Specialist, Kelly is working diligently to respond quickly to member inquiries, to improve the look-and-feel of the site, and to keep our content up to date. I welcome her, and I invite you to send her ( or Rick Skippon, our Publications Manager and Webmaster (, your ideas for improving the site.

While I am at it, I thank the other members of TEI's staff--Karen Blackburn, Joe Brooks, Sherice Brown, Lars DeSalvio, Mary Lou Fahey, Deborah Gaffney, Debbie Giesey, Greg Matson, Cathy Morris, Jeff Rasmussen, and Ruth Robinson--who with Rick and Kelly--bring value to TEI every day. I also thank those of you who kindly and graciously extend your good will and best wishes to the staff. Please know it is appreciated.

With Appreciation

TEI's ability to do as much as it does, as well as it does, depends not only on our members and our staff, but on the volunteer efforts of the best practitioners in the tax world and the willingness of government officials at all levels to work with us to educate ourselves and one another and to improve tax policy and administrator. I offer the Institute's appreciation to them, and also to TEI's conference sponsors whose financial support permits us to advance our mission of being the preeminent association of business tax executives.

One last thank you--to Hewlett-Packard Company (and to Board members Les Ezrati and Dan Goff) for the company's recent donation of a digital projector to TEI Education Fund. The projector will be used in the Institute's educational programs.

Finally.... New England Errata

With their beloved Red Sox's victory over the Yankees and Cardinals, the members of TEI's New England Chapter have been in a forgiving mood (at least until Pedro Martinez's defection to the Mets). Thus, a couple of errors--one in this column in the September-October issue and a second in the brochure for an Institute educational program--prompted only the gentlest of corrections. The first was a comment in the brochure for the 2004 International Tax Course, which noted that the first such course was held 30 years ago in Concord, New Hampshire. No problem there, but then we added a reference to "the revolutionary call to arms in the same location 199 years before." Ah, a gentle reader chastised us, "The first TEI International Tax Course was held in Concord, New Hampshire, but I suspect you are confusing it with Concord, Massachusetts, which is where the Americans repulsed the British in the first battle of the American Revolution on April 19, 1775." I wish the red faces at TEI were due to sloppiness with Concord grape jelly rather than sloppiness with American history.

The second error relates to the comments in my last column about the New England Chapter's meeting on Schedule M-3. I commended the chair of the chapter's Federal Tax Committee for his good work in planning the program, but conflated his name and company, calling him "Steve Gillette." Close, but no razor: The chair is Steve Hoffman of Gillette. I offer my apologies to Steve (it was not he who called the error to our attention), noting that when I learned of the miscue, I couldn't help but say, "Oh, Schick." (I thank you in advance for not moaning too loudly.)

Happy holidays.
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Title Annotation:Less Taxing Matters
Author:McCormally, Timothy J.
Publication:Tax Executive
Date:Nov 1, 2004
Previous Article:2005-2006 slate of TEI officers nominated.
Next Article:Illinois's new tax shelter rules.

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