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Preview of This Week’s ABA Tax Section Virtual May Meeting

Posted on May 10, 2021

The ABA Section of Taxation kicks off its third full virtual meeting today. A full week of programming follows today’s plenary session. I will preview a few sessions of interest in this post. The full program is available here. To register, click here. (Registration is free for J.D. and LL.M. students.) Sessions are all held live, but registrants can also view sessions on replay – a major bonus of the virtual format for those of us who like to attend multiple committee meetings. New attendees are encouraged to join an orientation reception this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. Eastern, hosted by the Young Lawyers Forum and the Diversity Committee.

The opening plenary today at 11 a.m. Eastern features Kimberly A. Clausing, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Tax Analysis, U.S. Department of Treasury, discussing tax policy priorities within the new administration and how tax policy has been designed to respond to key challenges of today, including economic recovery, social inequality, and climate change.

Also of note, at the plenary session the Tax Section will present two important awards to two extremely deserving people: The Section will present the 2021 Janet Spragens Pro Bono Award to Susan Morgenstern and the 2021 Distinguished Service Award to Hon. Peter J. Panuthos. Susan Morgenstern and Judge Panuthos have long been champions of inclusivity and fair treatment for taxpayers.  They will engage in a longer conversation on Wednesday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. eastern, moderated by Nina Olson.

Readers of this blog may be interested in the panels happening at the Administrative Practice, Individual & Family Taxation, Court Procedure & Practice, Diversity, Tax Collection, Bankruptcy and Workouts Committee, and Teaching Tax Committees, as well as the Pro Bono and Tax Clinics Committee. There are too many excellent panels to highlight them all here. I encourage readers to check out the full program and the schedule at a glance.

The Administrative Practice committee meets at 10:30 eastern on the morning of Wednesday, May 12, presenting Important Developments and then a panel on refund claims and procedures which is sure to be of interest.

Where, Oh Where Could My Refund Be? Obtaining a tax refund is not limited to simply as filing an income tax return and reporting an overpayment. This panel will discuss various topics with respect to seeking a refund, including informal and formal refund claims, protective refund claims, and tentative refund claims. Discussion will highlight particular issues and procedures in seeking a refund during the COVID pandemic.

Moderator: Sanessa Griffiths, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP, Washington, DC Panelists: Jorge Castro, Miller & Chevalier, Washington, DC; Bridget Roberts, Deputy National Taxpayer Advocate, Taxpayer Advocate Service, IRS, Washington, DC

On Wednesday afternoon, Court Procedure & Practice presents a session on Best Practices for Virtual Trials before the U.S. Tax Court.

Best Practices for Virtual Trials Before the U.S. Tax Court. Since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the U.S. Tax Court to convert to a virtual trial format on Zoomgov, over 100 cases have gone to trial. The IRS Office of Chief Counsel has developed a series of best practices which they have been using to train their trial attorneys, and have graciously agreed to share those best practices with members of the Tax Section. The panel will discuss the technology and practical issues both parties face in preparing a case for trial in a virtual environment, including the use of “step-aside” consultation rooms. Moderator: Karen J. Lapekas, Lapekas Law PA, Miami, FL Panelists: Honorable Judge Emin Toro, U.S. Tax Court, Washington, DC; Shawna A. Early, Special Trial Counsel, SB/SE, IRS Office of Chief Counsel, New York, NY; W Curtis Elliott, Jr., Culp, Elliott & Carpenter PLLC, Charlotte, NC

Also on Wednesday afternoon, Teaching Taxation presents an important program on the role of law schools in promoting tax justice, and the Diversity Committee presents Part One of a two-part series with the Pro Bono and Tax Clinics Committee focused on addressing discrimination with the IRS.

Law Schools and Access to Tax Justice. How can law schools help improve access to tax justice? Panelists will present models of law school courses through which students provide tax services or representation to taxpayers, or for which access to justice is the primary subject of the course. The panel will engage a variety of perspectives including different areas of tax law, different pedagogical approaches, and different institutional commitments by the law schools. Topics will include Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics, a seminar on Taxes and Social Justice, a Business Tax Practicum, and the Adopt-a-Base program.

Moderator: Michelle Lyon Drumbl, Robert O. Bentley Professor and Director, Tax Clinic, Washington & Lee University School of Law, Lexington, VA Panelists: Alice Abreu, Professor of Law and Director, Center for Tax Law and Public Policy, Temple University Beasley School of Law, Philadelphia, PA; C. Wells Hall III, Partner, Nelson Mullins, Charlotte, NC and Charleston, SC; Matthew T. James, Visiting Practice Professor of Law and Director, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, Temple University Beasley School of Law, Philadelphia, PA; Francine Lipman, William S. Boyd Professor of Law, William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV; Manoj Viswanathan, Professor of Law and Co-Director, Center on Tax Law, UC Hastings Law, San Francisco, CA

The Multicultural Taxpayer: How to Address Discrimination with the IRS. Please join us for Part I of a two-panel series, with Part II taking place during the Pro Bono and Tax Clinic Committee session. In advocating for any taxpayer with the IRS, no one should tolerate being discriminated against because of age, sex, color, disability, race, religion, or national origin. The panel will provide an overview of implicit bias against multicultural taxpayers and highlight the IRS’ investment in equity, diversity, and inclusion. Panelists will also discuss how to report discrimination to the IRS, resources available to multicultural taxpayers, and best practices to ensure that tax practitioners, taxpayers, and IRS employees are treated fairly and respectfully.

Moderator: Michael A. Wallace, EA, Agostino and Associates, PC, Hackensack, NJ Panelists: Barbara Kaplan, Esq, Greenberg Traurig, New York, NY; Keisha Clark-Proctor, IRS Office of Equity Diversity and Inclusion, New York, NY; Brenda Stuart-Luke, IRS Communication & Liaison, New York, NY; Darol Tucker, IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service, New York, NY

The Pro Bono and Tax Clinics committee has quite a slate of programming on Thursday, beginning in the morning with a discussion of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, and then with a discussion of current tax issues impacting agricultural guestworkers.

Tax Issues on the Horizon. Panelists will discuss the tax provisions of the American Rescue Plan of 2021 including the third stimulus check and changes to the anti-poverty credits. Panelists will discuss both the important policy effects of the new law, including the recurring Child Tax Credit payments, as well as the nuance and specifics of the statutory language within the bill. Moderator: Beverly Winstead, Clinical Professor of Law, Maryland Carey School of Law, Baltimore, MD (Invited) Panelists: Elaine Maag, Principal Research Associate, Urban Institute, Washington, DC; Joshua Beck, Senior Tax Analyst, Attorney Advisor Group, Taxpayer Advocate Service, Des Moines, IA

The Taxation of H2A Workers. Panelists will discuss ongoing efforts to maintain the exemption amount under IRC § 873(b)(3) for non-resident farmworkers, focusing on H-2A workers, including varying results at the administrative level and potential litigation in the Court of Federal Claims.

Moderator: Luz Arevalo, Senior Attorney, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, Greater Boston Legal Services, Boston, MA Panelists: Robert Nassau, Teaching Professor & Director, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, Syracuse Law School, Syracuse, New York; Iris Figueroa, Director of Economic & Environmental Justice, Farmworker Justice, Washington D.C. (Invited), IRS Speaker (Invited)

Thursday afternoon PBTC programming continues with its annual U.S. Tax Court Update session, and Part Two of the joint program with the Diversity Committee on discrimination and bias.

U.S. Tax Court Update. Chief Special Trial Judge Carluzzo together with Special Trial Judges Panuthos and Leyden will discuss updates from the Tax Court. Topics include issues associated with the Court’s limited scope agreement, upcoming access to court records, and a summary of new and emerging issues from calendar call participants.

Moderator: Susan Morgenstern, Taxpayer Advocate Service, Cleveland, OH Panelists: The Honorable Lewis R. Carluzzo, Chief Special Trial Judge, US Tax Court, Washington, DC; The Honorable Peter J. Panuthos, Special Trial Judge, US Tax Court, Washington, DC; The Honorable Diana L. Leyden, Special Trial Judge, US Tax Court, Washington, DC

Elimination of Bias in Tax Practice, Part II. This is the second of a two-part discussion of the elimination of bias in tax practice. Attendance in Part I sponsored by Diversity is recommended but not mandatory. This panel will focus on the elimination of bias in the attorney client relationship, and help tax professionals identify implicit and explicit bias in working with low-income clients and focus on best practices for promoting sensitivity to cultural difference. The panel will also raise attorneys’ ethical obligations as it relates to the elimination of bias. It is recommended that attendees take an Implicit Association Test prior to attending the session,

Moderator: Terri Morris, Christine Brunswick Fellow, Community Tax Law Project, Richmond, VA (Invited) Panelists: Tamara Borland, LITC Program Director, Taxpayer Advocate Service; Walter May, Assistant to the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Invited); Michelle Ferreira, Greenberg Traurig, San Francisco, CA

On Friday, the Individual & Family Taxation Committee has a star-studded session on the Child Tax Credit.

Expanding the Child Tax Credit: Policy Issues and Legal Issues. Recent studies indicate that nearly 1 in 7 US children live in poverty. Originally enacted in 1997, the child tax credit (CTC) is part of our nation’s patchwork efforts to address the high costs of raising children. In recent months, there have been a number of legislative proposals that modify and expand the CTC, including proposals that would allow for regular distributions of the CTC beyond the current annual mechanism. This panel will focus on the underlying policy issues and legal issues associated with a potential major legislative overhaul of the CTC.

Moderator: Michelle Lyon Drumbl, Robert O. Bentley Professor of Law, Director, Tax Clinic, Washington & Lee University School of Law, Lexington, VA. Panelists: Ken Corbin, Commissioner, Wage & Income Division, Internal Revenue Service, Washington, DC; Margot Crandall-Hollick, Acting Section Research Manager, Congressional Research Service, Washington, DC; Pamela Herd, Professor, McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University, Washington, DC; Rebecca M. Thompson, Director, Field Engagement and Taxpayer Opportunity Network, Prosperity Now, Washington, DC

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