Ca. Tax Lawyer Spring 2014, Volume 23, Number 1

Message From The Chair

By Bradley R. Marsh

It never ceases to amaze me how many tax questions remain unanswered, but I love it. Yes, I know that many of us crave answers and the certainty that comes with giving rock-solid advice. And I agree that in an ideal tax-utopia, that there would be clear answers to everything. It is a goal worth working toward. But it is also a goal that is unlikely to be achieved. Whether you like it or not, we live in a world governed by gray. Some things are black and white, but most of it, or at least the items that we are paid to deal with, are somewhere in-between. And what we are asked to do, whether we are in government service or private industry is to offer our clients good judgment on how light or dark gray their issues are. I enjoy the shades of gray, and discovering them with both my mind, but also with that exciting and peaceful feeling that comes with knowing — at that right point in the analysis — exactly where the issue falls.

Being a member of the tax community in California, we have the ability to continue to learn about the gray issues, and I enjoy following how the legislature, administrative agencies, courts, and others wrestle with the challenges of uncertainty. In addition, our Section spends a great deal of its efforts providing forums for working out these issues and educating each other about them. A few examples include our Eagle Lodge West Conference and our DC Delegation programs.

Eagle Lodge West was held on April 25th and 26th, 2014 at the Vintner’s Inn in Santa Rosa. Valerie Dickerson, Jenna Mayfield, Chris Campbell and I worked to organize the topics and conference. Eagle Lodge West is an annual invitiation-only conference with representatives of the State Bar, as well as the State Board of Equalization and Franchise Tax Board where participants identify legal issues of common interest and attempt to reach solutions. In the past, Eagle Lodge West has led to regulatory projects, legislative enactments, legal rulings, and other solutions to help improve tax administration in California. This year, the participants discussed and proposed solutions to a number of topics, including the property tax treatment of properties taken under threat of eminent domain by a public utility, and complex state apportionment issues.

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