To most, the holiday season usually means vacations, physical time away from the office (although being fully disconnected is a dream of the past), gatherings among family and friends, Feast of the Seven Fishes, and heated political arguments. Oh, sorry—that’s just my family. For us in the tax world, the phrase “holiday season” signals the prospect of impending deal and project completion deadlines, challenging “closes,” and associated financial reporting hurdles. And, in the TEI world, “holiday season” means that the most recent Annual Conference is firmly in the books and mid-cycle assessments about progress against goals and objectives are well underway. Well, if you don’t have the patience to read through, let me jump to the end of the story: our Annual Conference, the Institute’s seventy-third, was a resounding success, and substantial progress is being made across a broad range of goals and initiatives. Now, some details.
More than 600 in-house tax professionals (including more than 100 first-timers) convened in San Diego to explore the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and its effects on their businesses, operating structures, and risk profiles. Our best-in-class instructor cadre framed the broad range of technical and interpretative challenges associated with the new act and explored many of the implementation and documentation challenges necessary to support tax return and financial statement reporting positions. And, although still a bit over the horizon, several conference sessions did discuss the prospect of having to defend return positions in the face of a complex statutory and regulatory framework.
I am also delighted to report that TEI’s new brand elements were launched in San Diego. Our updated logo, tagline—Connect. Engage. Impact.—and newly revamped brand architecture will enable us to continue to tell our story as the go-to resource and authority on in-house tax powerfully and effectively.
We have made solid progress on our 2018–2019 goals. Overall, the creativity, energy, and focus being demonstrated by our task groups and committees have been terrific. I am so proud of and grateful for the energy and enthusiasm that our teams have brought to the table. A few particular highlights:
- The volume and scope of our advocacy efforts related to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act have been outstanding. Assembling and then coordinating multiple working groups to ensure that everyone who has a view can share it testifies to the leadership of tax reform task force chair Emily Whittenburg and tax counsel Watson McLeish.
- A comprehensive Member-in-Transition Toolkit is in the works to provide members with access to the professional, personal, and financial information and resources necessary to address every dimension associated with a job change.
- Our two-part strategy to elevate TEI’s profile in the tax media marketplace and the C-suite will commence by year’s end. In one way or another, each part will leverage TEI’s historical strengths in advocacy and education and will be communicated by the TEI members and staff best positioned to do so.
- New categories of TEI membership are being evaluated to reflect the changing needs and demographics of the tax community. These efforts are being undertaken in full recognition that we can meet those changing needs while always staying true to our fundamental principles.
- The inaugural Tax and Technology Seminar is scheduled for February 2019 and represents the latest effort to address the changing and expanding educational needs of the in-house tax community.
In closing, I note that the TEI family recently became smaller, with the passing of Reg Kowalchuk, 1991–1992 international president; Paul Schaffhausen, longtime member of our Chicago Chapter; and George Ziener, husband of TEI’s former general counsel, Mary Lou Fahey. Each in his own unique way added to the richness and diversity of TEI, helping the organization to grow and thrive. To their families and friends, we offer our condolences. The loss is to all of us.
All the best to you and your family for a joyous and happy holiday season, and the fulfillment of all good things in the new year.
TEI International President