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Unfinished business in 2003 presages busy 2004.

As 2003 comes to an end, it is fitting to review TEI's recent activities, to offer acknowledgments and thanks for a job well done, and to look forward with anticipation to what the new year will likely bring. The year has been extremely busy, and 2004 promises more of the same.

In the past 12 months, we have seen another round of tax cuts enacted, progress made (but not completed) on legislative proposals that would fundamentally change how U.S. business is taxed; numerous sets of regulations proposed, revised, and finalized; a recalibration of the IRS's enforcement resources (and fine-tuning of LMSB audit initiatives), as well as correlative developments in the States; a change of governments in Canada; and significant changes in personnel in important tax policy and administration positions. To each of these challenges, TEI and its members responded promptly and effectively. While much work lies ahead, a summary of the Institute's recent educational, networking, and advocacy efforts underscores why, as it begins its 60th year, TEI remains the preeminent association of business tax professionals.

Continuing Education

In survey after survey, education and networking are ranked the number one and two reasons tax professionals join TEI. The Institute's fourth quarter educational programs demonstrated why. Our 58th Annual Conference offered a broad array of technical sessions to the more than 600 tax executives who attended. From cross-border privilege issues to permanent establishment developments, from IRS initiatives and the States' assault on tax planning techniques to corporate governance challenges, from tax issues in bankruptcies and workouts to the paperless office and tax accrual workpapers, conference registrants heard one outstanding presentation after another.

The conference also put on display a key skill of all tax professionals: the ability to adapt. Late-breaking developments in Washington threatened to wreak havoc with the conference as several government speakers were forced to cancel their trips to Atlanta, but our committees responded with confidence and calm as we reworked our schedule to deliver timely and provocative sessions. I offer special thanks to our keynoters--Pam Olson, Helen Hubbard, Cindy Mattson, and John Petrella--who adjusted their hectic schedules to be with us, as well as Bill Sample, Bob Shapiro, and Fred Murray who coped admirably with the "disappearance" of more than half of their legislative update panel.

During the conference, I was honored to present TEI's Distinguished Service Award to two tax professionals, each of whom marked a first. Kevin Hennessey became the first individual to receive the award primarily for his service in private practice (as opposed to government service). Long the unofficial "dean" of TEI's Federal Tax Course, Kevin participated as a speaker at Institute and chapter programs for more than three decades, and helped shape our programs on consolidated returns. Larry Langdon was recognized for his contributions as the first Commissioner of the IRS's Large and Mid-Size Business Division, a position he assumed after a full career in industry. A TEI member in good standing for more than 20 years who served as 1988-1989 President, Larry was elected to Honorary Membership in the Institute when he retired from Hewlett-Packard Company in 1999. In being recognized for his government service, Larry became the first individual to receive two different TEI awards for meritorious service. For me, presenting the awards to Kevin and Larry was a highlight of the conference.

TEI's other recent educational programs complemented the Annual Conference. For example, more than 125 individuals attended our week-long International Tax Course in Indianapolis. In addition, nearly 2,000 tax professionals participated in our telephone seminars on internal control reviews under Sarbanes-Oxley and the IRS's section 482 services regulations, proving that while face-to-face networking is invaluable, the demand for distance-learning opportunities continues to grow.

TEI's educational curriculum in 2004 will build on this year's success. In mid-February, the Institute's IRS Administrative Affairs Committee will host TEI's annual tax controversy seminar in Las Vegas. Then, in March the 54th Midyear Conference will take up the "unfinished business" of international tax reform, tax accounting issues, IRS audit initiatives, and more. Special mention should be made of three items:

* TEI and the IRS are planning several "LMSB Bonus Sessions" for Wednesday afternoon, March 24 (beginning after lunch and ending by four o'clock). Please take these sessions into account in making your travel arrangements.

* On Monday afternoon, March 22, we will hold our highly regarded industry sessions, but will augment them by special workshops on corporate tax management issues and a session on state and local developments, plus a special networking session for our Canadian members.

* We will honor two individuals for outstanding government service--Rob Wright for his work with the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency and Bob Wenzel for his IRS service.

Lastly, I urge you all to mark your calendars for May 13-14, when TEI will hold a special conference for senior tax executives on the critical tax policy, administration, management challenges facing business executives today. This two-day interactive panel will be held in Scottsdale and will offer all participants a broad array of technical presentations and roundtable discussions. Further details will be posted on TEI's website in January.

Advocacy Efforts

A cursory review of the table of contents will document the Institute's transactional scope and focus, as well as the breadth of TEI's advocacy activities. Submissions to provincial officials in Quebec and Ontario and a position paper to the OECD on permanent establishment issues commanded the attention of the Institute's committees, as did federal legislation to permanently extend the moratorium on Internet taxes. Equally important, the Institute held four separate liaison meetings with Canadian government officials. The agendas for these meetings, which I was pleased to attend, are also reprinted in this issue.

The Canadian liaison meetings set the stage for similar U.S. meetings which will held the first week of February. It's not too late to make your voice heard.... please send your suggested topics either to me at ray.g.rossi@intel.com or to advocacy@tei.org.

This request for assistance brings me to one of the significant "internal" initiatives of the Institute--the development of a guide on how TEI members can become involved in TEI's advocacy activities. The guide on "How to Make Your Issue TEI's Issue" is being distributed with this issue (it's also available on our website), and documents why getting involved is really as easy as picking up the phone or sending an e-mail. Please let me know what you think.

Transitions

I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to mark the deaths in December of two pillars of the tax legislative community. Barber Conable represented western New York in the House of Representatives for many years, and served as the ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee for several terms. Upon retiring from Congress in the mid-1980s, he became President of the World Bank. Bill Roth was an equally strong contributor in the Senate, where he served as both Chairman and ranking member of the Finance Committee. Both gentlemen gave generously of their time to TEI, and we (and the nation) are in their debt. Closer to home, I offer condolences to Deborah Gaffney, TEI's Director of Conference Planning, on the recent passing of her mother.

Two happier transitions also serve mention. First, Assistant Secretary Pam Olson has announced her intention to leave the government at the end of the next budget cycle. We wish her well, and look forward to her continued involvement with TEI and its members. Second, two TEI members have been appointed to the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Committee. Former TEI President Drew Glennie and Tom Wharton of TEI's New York Chapter will join former President Betty Wilson, whose term on the IRSAC continues. TEI congratulates Drew and Tom and thanks them (as well as Betty) for their willingness to serve.

Conclusion

Below you will see a new feature of this column--"Write to Know"--in which I'll respond to member-submitted questions. Please let me know your reactions. On behalf of the Institute's Board of Directors, I am pleased to extend best wishes to all members of the Institute and other readers of The Tax Executive. May 2004 bring you health, happiness, and professional fulfillment.
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Title Annotation:Tax Executives Institute
Author:Rossi, Raymond G.
Publication:Tax Executive
Article Type:President's Page
Date:Nov 1, 2003
Words:1363
Previous Article:Calendar of events.
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