The year in review.
Tradition also has it that TEI's President devotes his or her last column to reviewing the Institute's activities during the year. I am absolutely delighted to do that because for me -- and I believe for TEI, too -- the year has been both enjoyable and productive. From our educational programs to our advocacy efforts to our membership outreach, TEI has accomplished a great deal. Perhaps the best way to summarize the year, and enable readers to judge for themselves whether we have made progress, is to review the goals that were set for TEI at the beginning of my term.
First, TEI should work to enhance the effectiveness of its liaison meetings net just at the national level but at all levels of TEI. It is vitally important for the Institute to maintain its strong ties with government officials in both the United States and Canada. TEI's annual liaison meetings with the IRS National Office and Revenue Canada have been second to none in their timeliness and thoroughness. I was privileged to lead the Institute's delegation to meetings with the IRS, Treasury Department, Revenue Canada, and the Canadian Department of Finance, as well as the Federation of Tax Administrators. These national efforts were complemented by local and regional meetings, as well as by informal meetings with other organizations, including the Multistate Tax Commission.
In addition to formal liaison meetings, TEI has been invited to participate on the Steering Committee implementing a restructuring of Canada's tax system, as well as in the Canadian budget review "lock up." (The Institute's recommendations in respect of the proposed Canada Revenue Agency -- and the government's positive response -- are set forth in this issue.) More recently, representatives of' both the United States and the Canadian governments recommended to the OECD that TEI be included in consultations on electronic commerce issues. Please be assured that we shall take up the challenge. Incidentally, TEI is also represented on the steering committee of the National Tax Association's joint business-government Communications and Electronic Commerce Tax Project.
Second, TEI should continue to work with Congress and Parliament toward the enactment of administrable laws and the implementation of positive changes in the structure of both the Internal Revenue Service end Revenue Canada. We have made great strides toward this goal. As noted above, we have filed comments on the proposed restructuring of the Canadian tax agency, have met with senior officials, and are delighted that our comments have been well received.
On the U.S., side of the border, developments have been fast and furious. I am most proud of the substantial and positive contribution we have made to the debate over restructuring the IRS. We have been involved in the process from the outset and gained prominence by being the first organization to highlight the potential adverse effect on tax administration that might arise from overbroad proposals to shift the burden of proof. TEI's wake-up call, broadcast on network television and carried in major newspapers, prompted others to voice their concerns and contributed to a narrower (if still troublesome) provision.
The burden of proof, however, was only one of several issues that attracted TEI's attention. When I had the opportunity to represent TEI before the Senate Finance Committee in January, I stressed the Institute's concerns about the overall management structure of the IRS, the need for streamlined congressional oversight, and a series of taxpayer rights issues, including global interest netting, extending the privilege of confidentiality to nonattorneys, clarifying the IRS's ability to summons computer source codes, and fixing the Code's interest and penalty provisions. We also weighed in on plans to "terminate the Code," pointing out the folly of sunsetting the tax code without specifying any replacement legislation. (This last issue, which also garnered TEI favorable publicity, is the subject of two articles in this issue.)
Our technical activities have not been limited, however, to those affecting the tax administration agencies in the United States and Canada. We also became involved in myriad technical projects -- ranging from the proper tax treatment of Year 2000 conversion costs, the tax consequences of converting to the euro, the impropriety of the States' refusing to refund unconstitutionally collected taxes, Canada's treatment of employee training expenses, and the IRS's authority to issue Notice 98-11 (concerning hybrid entities). We also achieved a first (at least in my memory) -- filing a technical submission with a government other than those of the United States and Canada. Our December 1997 submission on U.K. transfer pricing rules, which was submitted to Inland Revenue, built upon comments we previously filed in the United States, Canada, and with the OECD.
The Institute has also done an admirable job in meeting the third goal: To maintain and improve the quality of the Institute's continuing education programs. From our Annual and Midyear Conferences, to our innovative joint federal-international seminar on partnerships and joint ventures, to our week-long tax courses, TEI effectively anticipated and helped satisfy the educational needs of the members and their staffs.
I want to note, however, that you do not have to attend TEI's national, regional, or chapter programs to reap the Institute's educational benefits. We have virtual meetings every day on TEI On-Line, our Internet-based information service. I use TEI On-Line every day, and find it extraordinarily useful. If you have not signed up for the service -which is included in the cost of your membership -- you are missing out on a valuable tool. TEI On-Line not only presents an opportunity to network with your colleagues, but also serves to disseminate information about the Institute's activities. And while you on are the Internet, check out TEI's public home page (where you will find even more useful information).
TEI's fourth goal is to reach out to new and inactive members. This may be the most difficult goal to attain. Since I joined TEI in 1983, I have come to know first hand that the time and effort you invest in the organization will yield rich dividends, both in terms of professional development and for your company. We need to get the message across to all TEI members.
The key to more member involvement is breaking down the barriers and effectively communicating how easy it is to play an active role. I am appealing to all of you today to become active members of TEI. Join chapter committees, help plan programs, draft comment letters on proposed regulations, become a member of a national committee -- in short, get involved. Please feel free to call me, the other officers, the staff in Washington, or your local leaders if you have any questions at all.
Fifth, TEI should demonstrate through committee and task force appointments, as well as speaker selections, that it is an inclusive organization. Like other organizations, TEI is faced with the challenge of changing demographics and the need to reassess how well it grapples with a diverse and ever-changing membership. In TEI, we are not burdened by our diversity, we are enriched by it! Our committee appointments and speaker selections should -- and will -- demonstrate that. Both locally and nationally, we need to keep up the good work, reaching out and giving everyone the opportunity to contribute to the organization's overall success.
Finally, TEI should seek to revitalize existing chapters and continue to explore the need/or new chapters. I am pleased to report that during the year TEI chartered new chapters in Ft. Worth and San Diego, bringing the number of chapters to fifty. I am also pleased to report that preliminary meetings are underway with a view of starting a new chapter in northern Wisconsin, and local efforts (greatly assisted by Regional Vice President Bob Ashby to revive the New Orleans Chapter are bearing fruit Even more exciting, the Institute's Task Force on Members Overseas has sparked real interest in establishing a permanent presence in Europe, leading possibly to the chartering of a new chapter. (It was the Overseas Task Force that coordinated the preparation of TEI's U.K. transferring pricing comments, and its members are also contributing to our OECD electronic commerce initiative.
Looking back over the year, I have no hesitation in saying both that TEI's objectives for the year were ambitious and that we made progress on all six of them. I wish we could have accomplished more, but the natural desire "to do more" should not detract from all that we actually did. Of course, TEI accomplishes all that it does, not because of the actions of its President or its other officers, but: because of the efforts of the entire membership, aided by a qualified staff. On behalf of the entire membership, I want to thank our Board, committee chairs, and members for making the year' a success. I also thank them for allowing me to serve.
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|Title Annotation:||initiatives and accomplishments of Tax Executives Institute|
|Author:||Cherecwich, Paul, Jr.|
|Date:||May 1, 1998|
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