Ca. Tax Lawyer JANUARY 2019, VOLUME 27, NUMBER 4

Message from the Chair

By Troy M. Van Dongen

For California’s tax lawyers, 2018 has been a year of transition on many fronts. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted the most significant change to the Internal Revenue Code since the Tax Reform Act of 1986. California’s two new tax agencies—the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration and the Office of Tax Appeals—started their respective operations in earnest. The State Board of Equalization settled into its new—stripped down—operation, which is limited to only those duties established by the California Constitution (primarily related to the administration of California’s property tax laws). And, the United States Supreme Court issued its seminal decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, which overturned Quill Corp. v. North Dakota and held by a 5-4 majority that states may charge tax on purchases made from out-of-state sellers, even if the seller does not have a physical presence in the taxing state.

Of course, the Taxation Section itself also experienced significant change this past year. Originally founded in 1974 as part of the California State Bar, the Taxation Section separated from the Bar on January 1, 2018, and became part of the California Lawyers Association (the "CLA"), which is a nonprofit, voluntary organization and the new home of the Sections of the State Bar of California and the California Young Lawyers Association. For the most part, the transition has been manageable—due in large part to the many volunteers (including members from the Taxation Section’s Executive Committee) who have dedicated significant time and effort to assuring that this new organization functions in a way that promotes the goals of the various Sections. And, the Executive Committee has worked diligently to minimize the effects that this move has had on the Taxation Section’s agenda. Indeed, the Taxation Section’s Executive Committee is not only committed to providing the same quality events, programs, and opportunities to our members that we have in the past, but we also are planning enhancements to those programs and new initiatives, which you will hear more about in the coming months.

Recently, the Taxation Section just concluded its 26th Annual Meeting of the California Tax Bar and California Tax Policy Conference. From all reports, the Conference was another resounding success. With 32 educational programs covering estate and gift tax, state and local tax, corporate and individual income tax, international tax, procedural issues, ethics, and diversity, the Conference offered over 14 hours of continuing legal education presented by some of the top legal minds in the field. For example, the panelists included Chief Counsel for each of the State’s taxing agencies and the Office of Tax Appeals; Area Counsel for the Service; distinguished judges from the Tax Court; leaders in academia; tax directors and counsel from corporations located in Silicon Valley; and, of course, leading practitioners representing taxpayers. Who are better to speak about the pressing issues we face as tax lawyers than the leaders and decision-makers that the Conference Organizing Committee lined up?

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