Free Tax Court Lunchtime Webinar Starts Soon!

Today PT’s own and my Villanova Law School colleague Christine Speidel is part of a lunchtime Tax Court webinar series. The event highlight changes to Tax Court practice made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It starts in ten minutes, at noon ET, is free, and registration is here

In addition to Christine, the panel includes Chief Judge Kathleen Kerrigan; Judge Cary Douglas Pugh; Judge Emin Toro; Sheri Dillon, Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP;  Michael Garrett, IRS Office of Chief Counsel; and Andrew Tiktin, IRS Office of Chief Counsel. 

Robots Are Not the Only Problem and Disbarment News

On October 24 we posted about IRS efforts to free up phone lines by filtering out the robocalls.  To the extent that the post, which was inspired by a listserv posting by Barbara Heggie, raised hopes for a smoother path to the IRS through the phone lines, Barbara was back on the listserv on Wednesday, October 26 dousing those hopes.  Here’s Barbara’s graphic description of her experience trying to call that day:

it took eight tries to get placed on hold, even with a couple of them involving various tests of my humanity. Today, it took twenty-five, and most of them started with the quiz bot.

As the minutes wore on, I realized that this particular bot needs an annoying amount of time to determine whether I’m one of them or one of us. In fact, quizzing me on my math skills, auditory processing, and recall ability takes exactly twice as long, on average, as the non-quiz bot version of PPS purgatory – one minute, rather than thirty seconds.

I do admit to a tiny shot of dopamine whenever I get the math question right, but the thrill wears off by about Dial #20. And because I had to stay mentally nimble, I couldn’t check out and focus on something else for those precious extra seconds.

Yesterday was grumble-worthy; today was aggravating, particularly because the call dropped just as my PPS representative was giving me the numbers of the bank account where my client’s stimulus payments were deposited. Another twenty-six dials, and I’m in the queue again. Wish me luck.

It’s obvious from this message that robocalls are not the only problem.  Maybe $80 billion can fix this problem.  It would be nice to have calls get through without the problems described by Barbara and experienced by most of the readers of this blog.  While it’s nice to have math skills affirmed, it’s even nicer to reach someone to speak with about a problem without feeling that you have scaled Mount Everest just to get to the conversation.

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Discipline

Moving on from the fun topic of waiting to reach the IRS, we offer some possible additional reading material while you wait.  On October 26, 2022, the Tax Court issued its most recent list of attorney discipline orders.  Like most of these orders in the Tax Court, the three attorneys listed in this order are receiving discipline based on the reciprocal rules resulting from discipline in their local bar and not from something they did in a Tax Court case.  I have written about disciplinary matters several times in the past.  Here and here are posts from earlier this year.

The first case involving Paul Saul Haar seems a typical case of reciprocal discipline.  It struck me that he actually self-reported his state bar disciplinary action to the Tax Court which seems rare in my reading of these cases.  He failed to respond to the Tax Court’s show cause order causing his right to practice before the Tax Court to be suspended but with the right to apply for reinstatement.

The second case involving Isaac Henry Marks involved a situation in which it appeared the multiple bars in which he was admitted and the reciprocal discipline procedures of each proved too much for him to keep up with.  It appeared he may have had a minor trust account problem in DC causing disciplinary action there which triggered reciprocal discipline in Maryland, Kansas and the DC Circuit Court.  He got restored in DC relatively quickly but was still working out the reciprocal actions in the other jurisdictions.  The cascading impact of the first action appeared to be something he was having trouble getting in front of.

The third and final case involving David H. Miller was an easy case from the standpoint that he was convicted in Virginia of several serious crimes though not crimes which appeared to have any tax implications.  Disbarment here was an easy remedy to reach.  What struck me about this order was the requirement that he surrender to the Tax Court within 20 days his certificate of admission to practice before the Court.  The return of a physical document of this type seemed a bit archaic.  It was not required of the others who were disciplined but this was, by far, the most serious case and the one in which reinstatement seemed quite remote.  I wonder what the chances are that he will send in that physical document and what the consequences are of not sending it in.  It seems like his disbarment is complete without its return, but perhaps the physical document itself bears more importance than I would have imagined.

Treasury and IRS Guidance Plan Highlights Some Key Procedural Issues

Each year, the Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Policy and the IRS release at least one compilation where they highlight tax issues that should be addressed through regulations, revenue rulings, revenue procedures, notices, and other published administrative guidance.  Last week, Treasury and IRS released the 2022-23 Guidance Priority List and it flags issues for prioritizing agency resources during the 12-month period from July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023.

As the release notes, the Guidance Priority List “focuses resources on guidance items that are most important to taxpayers and tax administration” The list includes many substantive areas but also 26 specific projects under the header “tax administration.”

As one might expect, items on the list often relate to relatively recent legislation. Many of the tax administration items fall in that category, including highly anticipated regulations addressing reporting requirements relating to digital assets, regulations under §7602(c)(1) regarding notifications of third-party contacts as updated by the Taxpayer First Act, more guidance on the BBA partnership audit regime, and clarification on the recent legislative changes addressing mandatory e-filing of certain returns.

There were a few items on the list that jumped out at me, some of which we have discussed many times on PT, including a project relating to supervisory approval of proposed penalties under § 6751(b), and the authority to postpone certain deadlines by reason of Federally declared disaster, significant fire, or terroristic or military actions under § 7508A.

A few other areas flagged in the list highlight some issues that have long needed administrative attention, including a revision of the woefully out of date Circular 230 rules addressing practice before the IRS, regulations under § 6501 to define the return that starts the limitations period on assessment (especially important in a world of e-filing, a backlog of unprocessed returns, and returns that may sweep in multiple schedules and taxes) and new guidance under § 6662 to address the accuracy related penalty.

Two procedural items relating to business taxpayers piqued my interest, as the list identifies a reg project looking at last known address for business taxpayers and guidance on the application of the qualified amended return penalty exception rules for corporate taxpayers. I was happy to see last known address rules on this list, though the whole last known address regime needs a careful review and could use additional guidance rather than a focus just on business taxpayers.

As our blog often flags, there are many procedural issues not on the list that we believe could use administrative attention or even a possible legislative correction. For example, the what looks like unintended consequence of the Taxpayer First Act’s potentially limiting the Tax Court from considering evidence in a case involving relief from joint and several liability is an area that needs careful reconsideration (see, e.g., Keith’s post discussing that issue), and Caleb’s thoughtful series on Section 7122(f) and offers in compromise (all linked in Samantha Galvin’s July digest)

As the list related to the period that started this past July, the Guidance List flags some projects that have been released, including the controversial proposed regs addressing the TFA’s legislative changes concerning access to and exclusions from Appeals consideration.

As the list notes, “published guidance plays an important role in increasing voluntary compliance by helping to clarify ambiguous areas of the tax law.”  It is helpful to see what Treasury and IRS are prioritizing, but the list does not identify expected release dates and sometimes items that appear on these lists never result in outward facing projects.

The IRS Strikes Back Against Robocalls

Very few issues would touch a red button like talking to a tax practitioner or a taxpayer trying to reach the IRS by phone.  In recent years it has felt like Mission Impossible.

Last week the IRS began to take action to fight back against one of the problems facing the phone issue – robocalls by companies allowing their clients to reach the IRS via a pay for service contract.  Les discussed this problem here following a Senate hearing which raised questions about this practice.  Barbara Heggie also wrote about the problem in a guest post here which contains links to blog posts written by the National Taxpayer Advocate about the problem.  Barbara’s post described not only the problems of getting through but the problems encountered even if you finally get through to one part of the IRS.

So now let’s talk about what may be changing and whether this will be helpful.

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On Friday, October 21, Barbara reported on the listserv for low income taxpayer clinicians that she had called the IRS and

Before the usual menu options were listed, I was asked to repeat this sentence: “I pay my taxes on time.” I did so (and I do!), chose my menu option, and was immediately put on hold. In any normal universe, this wouldn’t sound so fantastic, but in our world, we all know this is a huge improvement. The hold time wasn’t any better than before, but MAYBE the days of repeat dialing are over. Thanks to the clever folks who figured out how to weed out the robocalls – until, of course, the clever folks at the robocall companies figure out how to trick the new system.

Others on the listserv reported being ask simple math questions.

Kesha Dawson Harris reported on the listserv that the National Association of Enrolled Agents had sent out the following message:

The IRS is preparing a pilot program that will use artificial intelligence to weed out phone line-cutting services. There is a mixed response to this technology as some tax professionals have used services like enQ Inc. to cut the long hold times that they have been struggling with since the COVID-19 pandemic. Others say that enQ is making the problem worse. Despite the mixed response, the IRS is hopeful that this program will help lessen the time spent on hold with the IRS.

Amber Gray reported on Forbes that the IRS discussed the steps it was taking to try to address the robocalls at the most recent ABA Tax Section meeting.  She reports that:

The pilot program is going to use artificial intelligence technology to attempt to weed out calls made by these services. The initial roll out will be on lines used by tax practitioners.

She also reported on what appears to be the response of the robocall industry:

In the meantime, EnQ has noted on its home page that it is “temporarily suspending services to: Practitioner Priority Service Business, Correspondence Examination Individual/Business, and Automated Underreporter due to changes on the IRS call center.” It recommends their paid subscribers “direct [their] calls to other departments while we work on a solution.”

The battle has begun.  Reports on the LITC listserv did not indicate that a smooth glide into the IRS now exists.  Nonetheless, it’s good to know the IRS is now fighting back against robocalls.  Individual taxpayers could eventually benefit from this if the IRS succeeds on the practitioner call line and practitioners without enough money to pay for the robocall service should benefit.  It will be an interesting battle to watch.  Best wishes to the IRS for a victory that opens up the lines even though we know that will not be enough to bring back good phone service.

The Fear Over IRS Funding

One key aspect of the legislation known as the Inflation Reduction Act is its $80 billion in proposed new Internal Revenue Service funding over a ten-year period. There have been a number of excellent mainstream media summaries of the funding, including Laura Saunders’ WSJ article What $80 Billion More for the IRS Means for Your Taxes[$] and Alan Rappeport’s NYT article  Yellen Directs I.R.S. to Embark on $80 Billion Overhaul Plan[$]

There are serious issues surrounding how the IRS prioritizes and spends the significant increase in funding. We will consider some of those issues in the upcoming months and years.

While we try to avoid being partisan on this site, this past weekend I wrote an Op-Ed for NBC Think about the potentially dangerous rhetoric that politicians have been using to describe the funding. As I discuss, stirring the pot and scaring Americans about the IRS undermines trust and is potentially dangerous.

I am not naïve enough to think that the IRS at times never impinges on taxpayer’s rights. And the IRS at times has not helped itself, with taxpayers and practitioners frustrated at delays and unanswered phones. 

A better resourced, more active and engaged IRS will hopefully center its actions on principles of sound administration. If it does not, people who care will take action, by writing articles and essays, filing amicus briefs and at times joining in litigation.

And we should expect Congress and other institutional actors to provide meaningful oversight. What is not helpful is politicians and some in the media using the legislation to scare Americans into thinking that the funding will lead to an army of armed IRS agents threatening people’s basic liberties.

Proposed Firearm Safety Deduction Legislation:  At What Procedural Cost?

Lots of legislators lean on the tax code to address issues that seem unrelated or only loosely connected to the main functions of a modern tax system. In this guest post, longtime PT reader Kenneth H. Ryesky offers his views on legislation proposing a new above the line deduction for certain expenses associated with gun ownership. Ken is an expatriate American currently based in Israel, where he formerly was a Senior Advisor at the U.S. Tax Desk of the EY Tel Aviv office. Les

Introduction:

The three basic functions of taxation are to (1) fund the government; (2) implement monetary policy; and (3) encourage or discourage particular behaviors by the populace. 

The Firearm Training and Proficiency Act (H.R.7973), introduced in the House of Representatives and referred to the Ways and Means Committee 7 June 2022, unabashedly falls into the latter category; the Bill’s sole function is to amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow “an above-the-line deduction for the purchase of gun safes, gun safety devices, and gun safety courses.”

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Of taxation, Ricardo noted that “[i]t frequently operates very differently from the intention of the legislature, by its indirect effects.”  H.R. 7973 is now postured to spawn many such indirect effects.  This posting, while taking no position on the current public discourse regarding gun violence and the Second Amendment, critiques how H.R. 7973 could implicate the IRS’s interactions with taxpayers and the IRS’s own internal procedures if the legislation were to be enacted in its current original text. 

Overview of the proposed Legislation:

The bill provides for three tweaks to the Internal Revenue Code.  Firstly, it redesignates the current I.R.C. § 224 as I.R.C. § 225; secondly, it inserts a new I.R.C. § 224 to authorize the aforementioned deductions; and thirdly, it adds a new subparagraph I.R.C. § 62(a)(22) to facilitate the deduction from gross income set forth in the new Section 224.

The redesignation of an Internal Revenue Code section can pose complications to legal research and to judges who decide cases where the renumbered Code section or subsection is relevant [see, e.g., Freytag v. Commissioner, 89 T.C. 849 (1987), aff’d 904 F.2d 1011, aff’d 501 U.S. 868 (1991).]; this can implicate tax issues even where the redesignated statute is in a Title other than the Internal Revenue Code [see, e.g.,
Wallace v. Commissioner, 128 T.C. 132 (2007)].

Here, the potential legal research obstacles are minimal because the current Section 224 which would be renumbered as a new Section 225 is not a substantive statute, but a “cross reference” section that specifically notes the renumbering of the relevant sections of Subchapter B; the proposed legislation specifically updates the cross references as appropriate.

Another redesignation issue comes to mind from my days with the IRS more than 30 years ago, when the ink-on-paper legal resources were the norm.  The IRS’s paucity of funding (of which Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen complained to Congress the very same day H.R. 7973 was introduced) was operative even back then, when the budgets were insufficient to timely procure enough of the semiannual CCH Code and Regulation volumes for everyone, so many of us made do with older sets that had been cast off by  senior colleagues who were fortunate enough to be issued editions of more recent vintage.  There were instances where redesignations were relevant to some case in someone’s caseload.  The possibility is real that one or more relevant IRS employees will not receive the appropriate updates if the legislation is enacted.  Analogous to the IRS’s failure to keep its employees current with statutory changes is the IRS’s past failure to update its own regulations to reflect statutory changes, thereby causing confusion and misinformation to the American public at large [see, e.g., Taibo v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2004-196.].

The deductions:

The bill would provide two separate deductions, each limited to $250 in any taxable year, and each available even if the taxpayer has not otherwise chosen to itemize deductions.

 The first deduction, in the proposed new I.R.C. § 224(a)(1), is the amount paid for “any secure gun storage or safety device.”

The second deduction in the proposed new I.R.C. § 224(a)(2), is

… the amount paid by the taxpayer during the taxable year for a concealed carry firearms course or a firearm safety course which—

            (A) is taught by a firearms instructor certified by the State to teach such course, or

            (B) satisfies the training requirement, if any, for any license or permit related to a firearm (including a hunting license) which is issued under the authority of State law.

The use of the word “State” (spelled with a majuscule “S”) in the textual language of the second deduction limits those who can benefit from the deduction to United States residents.  By way of disclosure, this excludes me, inasmuch as I am currently based abroad in Israel, which has no equivalent of the Second Amendment and which strictly regulates possession of firearms, issuing permits only to people who reside in certain areas and/or engage in certain occupations (e.g., military, law enforcement officers, tour guides, the diamond industry, etc.).  In order to comply with the law here, it was necessary for my own firearms and ammunition to be included in the extensive downsizing my wife and I did in preparation for our relocation.

There are U.S. citizens here (including a former client from my Long Island law practice) who legally carry firearms.  After jumping through all of the hoops of the qualification and licensure procedure, they must store their guns in secure safes when not actively carrying them, and, just as my wife and I must take continuing education courses to maintain our respective professional credentials, the gun owners must take periodic approved training courses to maintain their carry licenses.

If, as the press release by the sponsors of H.R.7973 insists, the legislative intent behind the bill is “to promote gun training and safety,” then many expatriate Americans here and elsewhere who eventually will return to the United States would be excluded from that noble and worthy goal by the word “State” in the text of the proposed legislation.

The data stewardship mandates of H.R.7973:

The proposed new I.R.C. § 224(d) would interpose many obstacles to the IRS in both its interactions with the taxpayers and its orderly internal processes.  The proposed subsection begins:

INFORMATION COLLECTION AND RECORD RETENTION AND DISCLOSURE.—

            (1) PROHIBITION ON COLLECTION OF INFORMATION REGARDING FIREARMS.—No taxpayer shall be required, as a condition of any deduction allowed under this section, to provide any information with respect to any firearms owned by the taxpayer.

            (2) LIMITATION ON RECORD RETENTION AND DISCLOSURE.—No official, employee, agent, contractor, or person otherwise acting on behalf of the Government may—

                         (A) keep any record relating to the deduction allowed under this section for any taxable year after the close of the 3-year period beginning with the date on which the return of tax for such taxable year was filed, or

                        (B) transfer any such record to a third party without the express written permission of the taxpayer.

Firstly, the term “any information with respect to any firearms owned by the taxpayer” [emphasis supplied] is subject to broad construction, and arguably extends well beyond even the sweepingly diffuse I.R.C. § 6103(b)(2) definition of “return information.”

As written by the pen of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous Sherlock Holmes character, “From a drop of water, a logician could infer the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara.”  Similarly, from a taxpayers claim of a Section 224(a) deduction, one can infer the possession of a firearm, and indeed, from the purchase receipt document for a firearm safety device can often be inferred information about the firearm.  In one of the Estate Tax cases I had while serving with the IRS (the particulars of which are not appropriate for discussion here), the decedent’s checkbooks included entries such as payment to the local police department for a “carry license,” subscriptions to firearms enthusiast publications, and NRA membership; from those items, I was able to infer a collection of firearms worth a few thousand dollars that was unreported on the Estate Tax Return.

The IRS agent auditing a return would obviously be severely hobbled in examining any Section 224 deduction claim.

The I.R.C. § 224(d)(2)(A) prohibition against the IRS “keep[ing] any record relating to the deduction” would be all the more vexing to the IRS bureaucracy.  In my IRS days, we were instructed to never remove a staple from a tax return (or if staple removal was necessary, to write an explanatory memo to the file and preferably have one or more witnesses to the removal process), lest questions arise as to whether the tax return being offered in evidence at trial is the same tax return that was filed by the taxpayer.  The flip side of an organization’s document retention policy is effectively a document destruction policy, and proposed I.R.C. § 224(d)(2)(A) effectively mandates the IRS to destroy records in connection with a taxpayer’s Section 224 deduction claim.

Here, rhetorical questions abound:  How would the IRS comply with this destruction mandate?  Would some GS-½ wield an Exacto knife to excise, page by page, the verbiage relating to the deduction from the paper tax return document?  Would the verbiage be crossed out with a black felt-tip marker (an IRS redaction mode that has proven ineffective in the past)?  Wouldn’t the general tendencies of all bureaucracies to travel the past of least resistance lead the IRS to simply discard or destroy the entire file once the retention period expires?

And what about “the 3-year period beginning with the date on which the return of tax … was filed?”  The I.R.C. § 6501(a) general 3-year statute of limitations for the IRS to assess a tax has exceptions, most notably the 6-year “substantial omissions” provision in I.R.C. § 6501(e).  In light of the previously propounded possibilities, would the IRS’s document destruction policies effectively serve to render it unable to assess taxes on such returns after the three-year deadline has passed, even if the Section 224 deduction were not at issue?  And what of any return that is in fact filed before the due date, considering that the I.R.C. § 6501(b)(1) provision deeming an early-filed return as filed on the latest timely filing date applies only to assessments, and not to the mandated record destruction date of the proposed new I.R.C. § 224?

Getting back to my own Estate Tax specialty, the Estate Tax return due date is nine months following date of death, and frequently extended another six months when timely requested.  One item on the Estate Tax examiner’s punch list is to request copies of the decedent’s final three years’ personal income tax returns.  If any of these returns were initially filed more than three years before the examination date, would the Estate Tax examiner’s mere possession of them not be contrary to the Section 224 document destruction mandate of “any record relating to the deduction” (it being noted that in the context of an Estate Tax return, it is possible to determine the identity of the decedent’s heirs, and therefore, have a lead as to the whereabouts of the decedent’s firearms)?  Ditto for insurance policies.

Moreover, some states, including New York, do not allow the same state deductions as the federal income tax does.  The fact that a federal Section 224 deduction is being backed out in order to compute the state income tax can effectively disclose information to the state authorities, who would not be be bound by the new Section 224 nondisclosure and document destruction rules.  And speaking of New York State, might the people from whom the sponsors of H.R.7973 apparently intend to bar access to the firearms information be able to do an end run around the restrictions by requesting the information from the New York State tax authorities or other state offices?  And might the IRS itself attempt an end run around the new Section 224 provisions by invoking the I.R.C. § 6001 recordkeeping requirement?

Other provisions of H.R.7973:

The bill also creates a private right for persons to obtain damages and injunctive relief for IRS violations of the firearms information collection and/or the recordkeeping provisions of the new Section 224.  Jurisdiction is specifically conferred to the Federal District courts, and sovereign immunity is explicitly waived. Increased litigation can be expected if these provisions become law.

Conclusion:

As of this writing, H.R.7973 is now a proposed statutory amendment to the Internal Revenue Code; it is impossible at this time to predict whether it will or will not ultimately become law.  This posting focuses on the potential for procedural agitation the current version of H.R.7973 would trigger if enacted into law.  The committee assignments of the three initial sponsors of the legislation range from Health, Armed Services, and Trade to Labor, Environment, and Climate; none of the initial sponsors seem to have any appreciable background in taxation, and the text of the bill strongly suggests that it was drafted by one or more persons whose forte is other than taxation.  It would seem unlikely that the proposed legislation would entail as many potential “indirect effects” had it been sponsored by Michele Bachmann, a former IRS attorney who served in Congress from 2007 to 2015.

Tax Compliance for Refugees: Free Training Aims to Fill Gap in Tax Assistance

The ABA Tax Section is co-sponsoring a free training on June 15 to prepare volunteers to provide tax preparation for first-year refugees. Volunteers with e-filing capabilities are particularly needed to help refugees file their first U.S. tax return correctly. “First year” tax returns are outside the scope of what FreeFile, VITA, and TCE sites can handle, due to their complexity. The unmet need for competent, free assistance with first-year returns has been clear for many years. Hopefully this training will lead to permanent tax preparation assistance projects for refugees nationwide.

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The training will cover tax residency, elections, foreign account disclosure, economic impact payments, child tax credits, and other issues relating to tax compliance for people who arrived in the U.S. during 2021. Many kudos to Frank Agostino for coordinating the training and providing for 3 free IRS continuing education credits.

To RSVP: https://t.co/d0zkNtVrU4

When: Wednesday, June 15, 2022, 1:30-4:30 PM ET

Where: Virtual

A flyer advertising the Tax Compliance for Refugees Training

Join the Center for Taxpayer Rights for a Celebration of Keith Fogg’s Career on the Occasion of his Retirement

Readers of Procedurally Taxing know how vital Keith Fogg’s analyses and commentary is to improving the state of tax procedure and administration in the United States.  One only has to read his most recent series of posts about the Boechler case here and here and here and here and here to realize that Keith is a tireless advocate who does not rest on his laurels.  He is always thinking about how to build on victories and how to work around losses.  And those readers who know Keith personally know how generous and unstinting he is with support, friendship, and humor. 

So it may come as a surprise for readers to learn that Keith is retiring from the Harvard Federal Tax Clinic on June 30th of this year.  We didn’t want this occasion to pass unnoticed.  The Center for Taxpayer Rights, of which Keith serves as President, is hosting a virtual celebration of Keith’s career.  Now you can share your appreciation by raising a toast to Keith and sharing some reflections about what his support and friendship mean to you.

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The celebration will be held on Tuesday, May 10th, 2022, from 5 pm to 7pm EDT via zoom.  You can register for celebration and receive the Zoom invite here.

If you can’t attend, you can still share your reflections by registering.  We will then send you a link to a drop box location where you can upload a short (2 to 3 minute) video of your comments which we will share with Keith during our celebration.

I can personally attest to the impact Keith has had on my life, starting with a conversation I had with him in January 1993, shortly after I incorporated The Community Tax Law Project (CTLP), the first independent low income taxpayer clinic in the country.  CTLP was just a vision in my mind; I was working on my LLM at Georgetown, and one of the deans there mentioned that I should speak with Keith Fogg, who taught the bankruptcy and insolvency class in the LLM program and who was the district counsel for the Virginia-West Virginia district.  So I cold-called Keith.  He didn’t know me at all, but he took my call, listened to me talk about my ideas for the clinic, and agreed completely about the need for representation of low income taxpayers before the IRS and in the courts.  The only doubt he raised was, where would the funding come from?  (Note, as the Center’s president, he still asks that question; we did address that concern, somewhat – see IRC § 7526.)

Fast forward a week or two, and Keith had finagled an invitation for me to meet with the VA-WVA IRS district leadership – the District Director, the Deputy District Director, the chief of exam, the chief of collection, the district chief of appeals, the customer service director and education director, even the chief of criminal investigation.  The District Director committed to putting posters up about CTLP in the walk-in office (when it was truly open for walk-ins) as well as including stuffer letters in appeals initial letters.  All that from one phone call!

I can truly say that had Keith hung up on me that first day, or been too busy to take a call from an unknown person, or just failed to see the need, a lot of things would have happened differently in my life.  Or at least at a more slow pace, and we all know that timing is everything.  Lucky for all of us, Keith not only did listen, but he actively supported CTLP and the concept of clinics writ large.  The tax system is much improved because of that one simple act in early 1993 and all the other acts of generosity and integrity Keith has done over the years.  On top of all that, I’m fortunate to have had Keith’s friendship over the years.

So, if you’d like to share your “Keith stories,” join us in our celebration of Keith Fogg on May 10th.

Keith has asked that folks wanting to recognize his career make a contribution to the Center for Taxpayer Rights.   You can donate to the Center here. Hope to see you on May 10th to raise a glass to Keith!