Corporate tax attorneys have a variety of interesting experiences before they ultimately see the light, but not too many TEI members possess the backstory of the Emerging Leader profiled in this issue of Tax Executive.
Mark Pollard is international tax counsel at Kimberly-Clark and the new chair of the U.S. International Tax Committee. But for six years, Pollard was a criminal defense attorney. His clients as a public defender in Fulton County, Georgia: alleged armed robbers, drug traffickers, and, yes, even murderers. “The pay and lifestyle are a lot better now, but there’s no comparison between dinner stories.”
“The pay and lifestyle are a lot better now, but there’s no comparison between dinner stories.”
Pollard decided to become a tax professional because he liked the quantitative and analytical aspects of being a tax practitioner. “The challenge of delivering impactful value to the bottom line by applying complex U.S. and local country laws to complicated business fact patterns is demanding. Rising to the challenge and executing successful transactions is fulfilling,” he explains.
Lost in Translation
The biggest challenge in being a corporate tax professional is the need to learn and speak multiple “tax languages,” each of which can be mind-numbingly complex, according to Pollard. “A corporate tax professional must be able understand tax law, tax accounting, and corporate reporting; be able to translate into English, apply to complex situations, and collaborate extensively to execute,” he says.
Pollard is looking forward to his role as chair of the U.S. International Tax Committee, one of TEI’s key committees, which began July 1. In addition to being involved in the development of TEI’s comments in the international tax area, Pollard will plan and oversee the U.S. International Tax panels at the Midyear and Annual conferences, as well as the content at the annual TEI International Tax Course each summer in Atlanta.
Pollard will be working with the U.S. International Tax Committee leadership team (vice chairs and beyond) to develop and deliver valuable international tax education to TEI members. “Jim Silvestri put together an exceptional working team, and I am fortunate to follow in his footsteps as Jim moves on to ultimately become TEI president,” Pollard says.
Pollard had several mentors in corporate tax, including Dave Bernard, Margaret Curry, and John Haertel. Bernard and Curry were former vice presidents at Kimberly-Clark, and Haertel is the current vice president.
The biggest surprise for Pollard when he came in-house from the IRS national office ten years ago was the priority placed on the tax accounting and P&L impacts of transactions. “Implementing business plans in a manner that achieves both desirable cash tax and P&L impacts is the constant, multidimensional challenge for tax planners,” he explains.
Name: Mark Pollard
Title: International Tax Counsel
At Current Job Since: 2005
Prior Organization: IRS national office (associate chief counsel international)
Education: Emory University (B.A.), University of Georgia (JD), Boston University (LLM)
Birthplace: New York City
Key Achievement: Putting Kimberly-Clark on the fair market value method of interest expense apportionment; enhancing the company’s foreign tax credit utility
Top Goals: Health and fitness, marriage, parenting, career
Hobbies: Chauffeur to three oversubscribed kids, Georgia Bulldogs football fan
Fun Fact: Spent six years as a criminal defense attorney