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President Biden to Nominate New IRS Commissioner

On November 10, 2022, US President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Danny Werfel to serve as Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen has expressed her support for Werfel’s nomination. Charles Rettig, whose term expires on November 12, 2022, is the current IRS Commissioner and Doug O’Donnell has been selected to serve as acting IRS Commissioner until the position is formally filled.

The White House press release provides the following background on Werfel:

Danny Werfel is a public and private sector leader who has served under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Across more than 15 years of government service, Werfel served President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush to lead some of the governments’ most complex management challenges as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Acting Commissioner and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Controller. In the wake of an Inspector General report alleging various forms of mismanagement and bias in the determination of tax-exempt status for non-profit organizations, President Obama appointed Werfel to serve as Acting Commissioner of IRS in 2013. Werfel provided immediate stability to the IRS, effectively responding to numerous Congressional investigations, successfully launching the Affordable Care Act technology that IRS was responsible for, and navigated the IRS through a multi-week government shutdown. At the end of his tenure, both the majority and minority leaders of the Senate Finance Committee publicly recognized his contribution and performance. As OMB Controller, Werfel successfully led a cross-government effort to ensure the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was implemented transparently and with minimal fraud or error. He also led the government-wide efforts to prepare for and implement the budget sequester of FY2013. Werfel played a key role under the Bush Administration in the implementation of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, overseeing the efforts of the Office of Financial Stability to achieve a clean financial statement audit in its first year of existence.

 

Werfel has spent the last nine years at Boston Consulting Group where he helped launch their U.S. public sector practice. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Labor Relations (with honors) from Cornell University, a Juris Doctor (with honors) from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a Master of Public Policy from Duke University. Werfel lives in the District of Columbia with his wife and two children.




Former Tax Court Judge Herbert Chabot Passes Away

The US Tax Court announced that former Judge Herbert Chabot passed away on October 11, 2022.

Judge Chabot joined the Tax Court in 1978, serving as a regular judge and then as a senior judge for almost 40 years. Before being appointed to the Tax Court, he served on the staff of the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation for over a dozen years. Prior to that, he clerked at the Tax Court, served on the Legal Staff of the American Jewish Congress and served in the US Army and the Army Reserves.

We both knew Judge Chabot well during our time clerking at the Tax Court. He was very thoughtful and cared deeply about reaching the correct result in each case. The Tax Court’s announcement aptly states: “He was a delightful storyteller and often regaled his colleagues and law clerks with wonderful stories. His charm, humor, and ubiquitous bowtie will be missed.”




Pro Bono as a Business Development Tool

In this ABA Tax Times article, McDermott Partner Andrew Roberson discusses the benefits of taking on pro bono work and how it functions as a business development tool.

“In my opinion, the motivation for doing pro bono work is to assist those in need who cannot afford our services. But if you need a little extra motivation to assist the needy, think about the ways that doing pro bono work can help you in your day-to-day practice. The benefits are numerous, from honing your skills to developing important relationships. During that process, you might even find an ancillary business development benefit.”

Access the article. 




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.




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