D.C. Bar Taxation Section Annual Report - February 2015

In General
The Taxation Section has 1,832 members (FY 2013-2014) and operates primarily through its ten committees: Corporation Tax, Employee Benefits, Estate Planning, Exempt Organizations, Financial Products, International Tax, New Tax Practitioners, Pass-Throughs and Real Estate, State and Local Taxes and Tax Audits and Litigation. The steering committee meets on a monthly basis. The committee chairs and vice chairs of all committees attend every other steering committee meeting.
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Committee Activities
Consistent with past years, each Taxation Section committee has continued to sponsor timely and informative educational programs for its respective membership. Each committee has between five and nine scheduled meetings each year. In total, the Taxation Section committees expect to host approximately 60 luncheon programs during the 2014-2015 year on matters of current interest to tax practitioners. In addition, special luncheon programs may be scheduled to address important new developments.

The featured speakers at the programs are typically high-level government officials responsible for formulating federal and local tax policy. For that reason, the section's programs are regularly covered in the national tax press. Special admission rates are available for luncheon series subscribers in every category (e.g., non-section members, section members), for government and non-profit employees and for law students. To increase participation by government attorneys, the Taxation Section also has a no-charge "brown bag" option for government employees. This affords our members greater access to government attorneys and policy makers.

To assist our committee chairs and cochairs in providing the best service to their members, the steering committee has developed a list of "Best Practices" that committee chairs and vice chairs are asked to adopt. For example, all committee chairs are asked to make early program decisions, have written handouts prepared for each program, write thank-you letters or emails to speakers, give caveats if needed for government speakers, alert the tax press of important programs and distribute flyers of upcoming events. In addition, committee chairs are asked to maintain separate email lists for their respective committee members so that program information can be sent to all committee members on an expedited basis as necessary. This list is reviewed and updated as necessary.

An important committee of the Taxation Section is our New Practitioners Committee. Last year, the New Practitioners Committee, as it had for several years, partnered with other substantive tax committees to sponsor "back-to-basic" programs that focused on the basic rules of the particular tax specialty.

The section held an all-day seminar on October 21, 2014 at which more than ten panels discussed different aspects of proposed federal tax reform legislation (the Tax Reform Act of 2014 Discussion Draft) and at which Thomas Barthold, Chief of Staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, was the featured speaker. The seminar was attended by more than 100 registrants and was well covered in the national tax press.

The Steering Committee is currently developing plans for an event to take place in the summer of 2015 focused on summer associates interested in practicing tax.
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CLE and Special Activities
For the Bar year 2014-15, the Taxation Section sponsored (or co-sponsored) the following programs:

  • ERISA Basics Series, Part 1: ERISA Introduction (Nov 3)
  • ERISA Basics Series, Part 2: Minimum Standards and Plan Design (Nov 10)
  • ERISA Basics Series, Part 3: Problems in Plan Administration (Nov 17)
  • ERISA Basics Series, Part 4: Fiduciary Responsibility and Participant Rights (Nov 24)
  • Introduction to the Taxation of Financial Instruments (Oct 2 and 9)
  • Advising Foreign Nationals on Starting a Business in the United States 2014, Part I, Corporate Formation and Tax Issues (Oct 7)
  • A Primer on Non-Profit Law in the District of Columbia – this full-day class included a segment on tax issues including a quick discussion about obtaining and maintaining tax-exempt status, and the benefits and detriments of this status (Dec 12)
  • Ethics for Tax Lawyers: Circular 230 and the Rules of Professional Conduct (Jan. 13)
  • How to Apply for Tax-Exempt Status 2015 (March 10)

In addition, we continue to co-sponsor a number of regularly recurring CLE classes with other sections, and throughout the year we co-sponsor various non-Taxation Section programs that might be relevant to our members' practices in order to broaden the types of programs made available to our members.
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Community Outreach
The Taxation Section has an active community outreach component. As an ongoing activity, we help staff the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program's monthly Advice and Referral Clinic with a tax lawyer. Our section will participate as a co-sponsor of the annual Youth Law Fair in the spring, and also supports the Community Economic Development Project of the Pro Bono Program.
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