When TEI’s 2016–2017 year started and work began on our goals assembled under the theme “Staying Nimble With Change,” few could have envisioned the profound political shifts that would result from the 2016 national election cycle. Would the new political alignment create an environment conducive to enacting comprehensive tax reform or addressing the country’s longstanding infrastructure, healthcare, and structural deficit challenges? What might these shifts mean for TEI and its membership? As I look back on my presidential term, I am immensely proud of the progress we have made across a broad range of projects and initiatives, adapting to and perhaps even benefiting from the changing political landscape. All in all, I think, we at TEI very much stayed nimble with change.
For starters, the changing political landscape energized TEI’s tax reform taskforce. Under the steady leadership of John Mann and staff counsel John Schoenecker, members from multiple industry segments engaged in regular dialogue about the impacts that legislative proposals, once drafted, might have. And, of course, while the pace of tax reform activity has sputtered somewhat, TEI’s foundation for future engagement has been firmly established. In addition, TEI, through its ongoing liaison meetings with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, has continued to demonstrate its deep awareness of the potential administrative and financial statement impacts some of the reform proposals might have. Should legislative activity accelerate, TEI is prepared to participate constructively in discussions in those areas where we can meaningfully contribute.
Our efforts to broaden and expand TEI’s membership base are progressing well. In the first year of TEI’s Access Granted recruitment campaign, new member applications are approaching 900 members, nearly a 50 percent increase over the previous year. The combination of a professionally developed campaign, the heightened importance of tax professionals being connected to their in-house peers (and to the goings-on in Washington, D.C.), and the TEI Board’s strong support for an important economic incentive (i.e., the initiation fee waiver) has yielded excellent results. These results bode well for the future of the campaign.
The privilege of leading a delegation of members and staff on an extended visit to TEI’s Asia Chapter was a highlight of my service as Institute president. The two-week journey was intended to advance three broad objectives: to underscore the critical importance of the region to TEI’s future by carrying the message of “Access Granted” to Asia; to engage with tax, economic development, and other regulators in the region to strengthen bilateral relationships; and to meet with a broad range of members (and sponsors) to help us at TEI keep our ear to the ground. On each score, I believe we made significant progress. In India, our participation in meetings and discussions helped to educate prospective members and others about the value of TEI as a professional organization, while in Singapore, discussions with tax and regulatory authorities (after getting past the question of “Is there really going to be a fifteen percent corporate tax?”) focused on ways for members and regulators to stay connected. And, finally, in Shanghai and Beijing we engaged in a range of meetings and discussions designed to strengthen relationships and enhance channels of communication.
To all of the TEI leaders, members, and friends I met in Mumbai, Singapore, Shanghai, and Beijing, as well as all those who have worked so diligently to help our Asia Chapter grow and expand, I say:
For those whose Mandarin may be a little rusty, that means “We sincerely thank you for your great contribution to our Institute and our members.”
On the other side of the globe, I was especially honored to attend and participate in TEI’s Fifty-First Canadian Tax Conference, where I shared in the continuation of the rich traditions of Canadian education and networking as well as engaged in a panel discussion, “The Evolution of the In-house Tax Function,” with Paul Magrath of AstraZeneca and Jason Vincze of PwC. The Canadian Tax Conference is emblematic of what TEI is, an organization of members engaged in education, networking, and advocacy for its members.
To the members I met in Ottawa, as well as to members throughout Canada:
Je vous remercie de votre immense dévouement envers TEI et sa mission; j’applaudis vos efforts et admire vos réalisations.
New Website and More
Through extensive effort and collaboration among vendors, members, and staff, TEI’s new website went live this year. Functional, scalable, and searchable capabilities, coupled with the ability to connect TEI members with one another, will provide readily accessible sources of information about our advocacy and education activities. In addition, we have created unique online communities, a platform to link chapters, issue groups, and others. Technological capability is vital to keeping members connected with each other and the marketplaces they serve. TEI’s new capabilities represent a giant step forward.
TEI’s advocacy efforts and accomplishments remain our guiding star. Whether focusing on BEPS, state tax policy advocacy, or ongoing IRS engagements on key issues, TEI continues to pursue an advocacy model combining critical analysis with constructive recommendations. This approach has allowed us to engage regulators on issues of interest to our members. Congratulations to our financial reporting committee for holding its initial liaison meeting with representatives of the Financial Accounting Standards Board to discuss a broad range of issues.
Progress on a range of other initiatives has been very encouraging. A proposal is pending to amend the Institute’s mission statement to embrace diversity principles, and work is ongoing to assess the Institute’s nominating procedures. I applaud these efforts and thank all who have committed their time to them. On a personal note, I thank the members of my leadership team. Each in his or her way has provided creativity, drive, support, and insight throughout the year. Their commitment to TEI has enabled us to make sound decisions and move the organization forward. Finally, let me acknowledge the strong work and professionalism of the Institute’s staff. I have come to appreciate even more their efforts and dedication to TEI.
TEI International President