By Bryan C. Skarlatos
August - September 2015 Edition
The Seventh Annual NYU Tax Controversy Forum took place on Friday, June 4, 2015, at the Crowne Plaza in Times Square New York. Over 250 attendees and speakers from the government and private industry came together to discuss the latest developments in tax enforcement and to share perspectives on issues that arise in daily practice.
The purpose of the Tax Controversy Forum is to facilitate communication among taxpayer representatives and government officials from the IRS and the Department of Justice. A better understanding of how the government intends to interpret and enforce the tax law as well as how practitioners are reacting to enforcement efforts in the field can only improve taxpayers’ efforts to self-assess, which is the bedrock of our voluntary compliance system. Judging by the lively discussion on the panels and in the hallways and the overall collegial atmosphere, this year’s Forum fulfilled its purpose.
Each year, the Forum starts with a limited-seating Special Skills Workshop the night before designed to provide practical training and tips for practitioners. This year, Martin Davidoff conducted a comprehensive two-hour program on Offers-in-Compromise. Marty took the audience through a series of hypotheticals to illustrate the nuances and opportunities in the current Offer-in-Compromise program. In addition to Marty’s brilliant instruction, members of the audience offered many helpful ideas for the practitioners in attendance.
On Thursday morning, the Forum kicked off with an unusual panel on Non- Traditional Tax Advocacy chaired by Frank Agostino. Frank, accompanied by Fred Murry from Grant Thornton, Minna Elias from Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy’s Office and William Kalb from the IRS Treasury Inspector General’s Office offered tips on how practitioners stymied by normal tax procedures can reach out to the Taxpayer Advocate’s Office, their local Congress person or TIGTA to see relief in appropriate cases.