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McDermott Will & Emery Named Top Firm for Tax Thought Leadership

We are pleased to share that for the third year in a row, we were recognized as the #1 firm for tax thought leadership in the 2022 JD Supra Readers’ Choice Awards, which acknowledges top authors and firms for their thought leadership in key topics during all of last year.

In addition, Partner and Blog Editor Kevin Spencer was recognized as a “Top Author” for tax.

Through our various blogs, thought leadership pieces and tax-focused events, we are dedicated to maintaining our position as a leading firm for tax work and keeping clients abreast of significant and relevant topics in the industry.




Former Tax Court Judge Gerber Passes Away

The US Tax Court announced that former Judge Joel Gerber passed away on March 4, 2022. Judge Gerber retired from the Tax Court on July 16, 2020.

Prior to his appointment to the Tax Court, Judge Gerber spent several years working for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in several cities around the country, including as Acting Chief Counsel. He was then appointed to the Tax Court in 1984, serving as Chief Judge from June 1, 2004, to May 31, 2006. Both before and after his appointment, Judge Gerber was a frequent participant in tax seminars and professional programs, including as a lecturer of law at Vanderbilt School of Law and the University of Miami School of Law Graduate Program.

We both knew Judge Gerber well during our time clerking at the Tax Court. He was always engaging and enjoyed talking about many things outside of tax. As the Tax Court’s announcement states: “Judge Gerber had a zest for life and was a humble, humorous, and unabashedly compassionate man who endeared himself to colleagues, employees, and all those fortunate enough to cross his path.”




Former Tax Court Judge Robert P. Ruwe Passes Away

We are deeply saddened to report that retired US Tax Court Judge Robert P. Ruwe passed away on February 12, 2022. The Tax Court’s press release aptly stated: “Judge Ruwe was known for his extraordinary memory and grasp of tax law, and for the valuable experience that he brought to his work.”

We both clerked for Judge Ruwe in the early 2000s and will never forget his mentorship, dedication to service and love of tax. Judge Ruwe was fond of going for walks with his clerks, whether to talk about pending cases, sports, politics or family life. He also enjoyed giving history lessons during those walks, pointing out lesser-known monuments or memorials and sharing the background of various government buildings. Most walks also ended with the purchase of roses from street vendors to give to his wife MaryKay that evening. Judge Ruwe will be sorely missed.

Below are links with further information about Judge Ruwe and his legacy:




A Sit-Down with Andrew VanSingel

Andrew Roberson interviewed Andrew VanSingel, who dedicated his career to providing pro bono and public services to low-income taxpayers, for an American Bar Association Pro Bono Matters column. They discussed VanSingel’s work in the disaster relief area and at TAS, shared advice for young lawyers who want to get more involved in pro bono work and more.

Access the article.




Special Trial Judge Receives Tax Court’s Highest Award

On November 21, 2021, the US Tax Court announced that Special Trial Judge Daniel A. Guy, Jr., received the J. Edgar Murdock Award for his distinguished service to the Tax Court. The Murdock Award commemorates Judge John Edgar Murdock, who served on the Tax Court from 1926 to 1968 and has been described as probably the most influential person to serve on it. A story recited in the publication referenced below (and which may be more folklore than fact) is that a taxpayer once concluded their argument before Judge Murdock saying, “as God is my judge I do not owe this tax,” and Judge Murdock retorted, “He isn’t, I am, and you do.” Further background on Judge Murdock can be found here.

The Murdock Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Tax Court. It has been presented only 13 times since its creation in 1973, with the most recent recipients being former Chief Special Trial Judge Peter J. Panuthos (2012), former Judge Robert P. Ruwe (2012) and current Chief Special Trial Judge Lewis R. Carluzzo (2020).

The Tax Court is composed of 19 presidentially appointed members and also includes senior judges serving in recall and special trial judges. As explained in the publication “The United States Tax Court: A Historical Analysis” (2d ed. 2014), the Tax Court established a small tax case division following statutory changes made in the Tax Reform Act of 1969. The purpose of special trial judges is to lessen the workload of the Tax Court and allow these judges to hear cases with smaller amounts in controversy. The range of cases that may be assigned to a special trial judge has expanded over the years, and they play an important role in the tax judicial system.

Special Trial Judge Daniel has served the Tax Court in various roles, ranging from law clerk to general counsel, for more than 30 years. He was appointed as a Special Trial Judge on May 31, 2012. Partners Andrew Roberson and Kevin Spencer worked with Special Trial Judge Daniel when they clerked at the Tax Court and saw the invaluable services he provided firsthand. McDermott congratulates him on this well-deserved honor.




McDermott Partner Recognized as a Legal Influencer

We are pleased to share that partner and blog editor Kevin Spencer was recognized as a leading author in the Lexology Legal Influencers Q2 2021 for Corporate – US. He is acknowledged for his continued contributions of high-quality legal content.

Through our various blogs, thought leadership pieces and tax-focused events, we are dedicated to maintaining our position as a leading firm for tax work and keeping clients abreast of significant and relevant topics in the industry.




Pro Bono Update: A Team Effort by Tax Helpers

Our Tax Practice Group recently wrote an article for the American Bar Association’s quarterly newsletter on pro bono matters entitled, “A Team Effort by Tax Helpers.” The article discusses our recent pro bono efforts, which includes teaming up with a low income taxpayer clinic in a docketed Tax Court case. (The full article can be accessed here.)

As we have written in the past, we believe tax practitioners should strive to assist low income taxpayers in their disputes with the Internal Revenue Service to ensure taxpayers of limited means have access to full and adequate representation. We know many other law firms and tax volunteers provide such pro bono services and we look forward to continuing to help those in need.




DOJ and IRS’ Analysis of Crypto Records and Work with Private Experts and International Partners Leads to Arrest

US law enforcement continues to make no secret of their efforts to work closely with experts and overseas partners to prosecute those involved in virtual currency transactions who attempt to rely on its purported anonymity to commit financial crimes. Tuesday’s arrest of Roman Sterlingov, a dual citizen of Russia and Sweden and alleged operator of Bitcoin Fog, in Los Angeles is a clear case that these efforts are paying dividends. In a criminal complaint filed by the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, Sterlingov is accused of laundering hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of bitcoin. According to a statement of facts accompanying the complaint filed in the District of Columbia, Sterlingov was allegedly running “an illicit bitcoin money transmitting and money laundering service.” (Case 1:21-mj-00400-RMM Document 1-1 Filed 04/26/21.) Notably, investigators from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were able to obtain records of Sterlingov’s True Name accounts at several cryptocurrency exchanges. Investigators also analyzed bitcoin transactions, email records, financial records and internet service provider records. The investigation and arrest come at a time when the IRS, together with other enforcement agencies, are taking a hard look at cryptocurrency activity and have recently issued John Doe summonses to two virtual currency exchanges.

The collaboration with private experts and international partners is clear from the press release issued by the US Department of Justice (DOJ). In recognizing the many agencies that assisted in the investigation, the DOJ specifically stated that essential support was provided by Excygent, which is described on its website “as a highly specialized, professional services firm that assists organizations in both the public and private sectors with cybercrime investigative and analysis capabilities.” The DOJ also listed several US agencies that provided invaluable assistance and went on to include international partners: Europol, the Swedish Economic Crime Authority, the Swedish Prosecution Authority, the Swedish Police and the General Inspectorate of Romanian Police, Directorate for Combatting Organized Crime and the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism. This ability to collaborate successfully will most likely serve as a blueprint for future investigations.

Practice Point: As we noted in our blog post, “Finding John Doe: IRS Steps up Enforcement Efforts to Take the Anonymity Out of Virtual Currency,” the time is now for those who have engaged in a virtual currency transaction to assess any potential tax and criminal implications, and businesses in this industry should carefully review their policies and processes to ensure that they address potential tax avoidance and anti-money laundering risks associated with their operations. The IRS is working closely with its new partners (i.e., industry experts and foreign law enforcement) to address any noncompliance. As announced recently by US President Joe Biden, he plans to give them the resources to do more on enforcement.




Thank You to Our Readers

We greatly appreciate our readers over the past year and are pleased to share that we were recently recognized as the #1 Firm for tax thought leadership in the 2021 JD Supra Readers’ Choice Awards, which acknowledge top authors and firms for their thought leadership in key topics during all of last year. In addition, partner and blog editor Andrea Kramer was recognized as a “Top Author” for tax.

Through our various blogs, thought leadership pieces and tax-focused events, we are dedicated to maintaining our position as a leading firm for tax work and keeping clients abreast of significant and relevant topics in the industry.




Weekly IRS Roundup May 18 – May 22, 2020

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of May 18 – May 22, 2020. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

May 18, 2020:  The U.S. Tax Court announced that comments to the proposed amendments to the Rules of its Practice and Procedure should be emailed to Stephanie A. Servoss, Clerk of the Court, at Rules@ustaxcourt.gov. The Tax Court has not received mail since March 19, 2020.

May 18, 2020:  The IRS added approximately 3,500 phone operators to answer Economic Impact Payment (EIP) questions.

May 19, 2020:  The Large Business & International (LB&I) released information regarding the Swiss Bank Program Campaign. The program allows Swiss financial institutions to provide information on the U.S. persons with beneficial ownership of foreign financial accounts. The campaign will address noncompliance of such taxpayers.

May 20, 2020:  The IRS announced that Andy Keyso has been selected to serve as the Chief of the IRS Independent Office of Appeals, the IRS announced. For more information on Mr. Keyso and IRS Appeals, see our write-up here.

May 21, 2020:  The IRS announced that the 2020 IRS Nationwide Tax Forums will be held virtually in 2020 with a series of live-streamed webinars beginning this July. The 2020 Nationwide Tax Forums will begin on July 21 and continue through August 20.

May 22, 2020: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandums and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Emily Mussio in our Chicago office for this week’s roundup.




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