The Chair’s Comments: Make the Year Even Better By Getting Involved

bryant-joshBy Joshua D. Bryant

Fellow Tax Section Members:

As I write this, the inaugural post for our section’s blog, much of eastern North Carolina is beginning the long process of recovering from the heavy rains brought by Hurricane Matthew. Early maps depicting alternate possible paths for the storm reflected the uncertainty that is characteristic of hurricanes—lines of various colors veering in different directions with only a slightly discernible pattern. Uncertainty has been a theme in 2016 in many respects, including economically and, with the November elections looming, politically.

Of course, uncertainty is a constant in the practice of tax law. (On this point, “A Detailed Guide to Tax Opinion Standards” published in the March 21, 2005 issue of Tax Analysts (copy available here) is worth a review for those who have not seen it before.) Two things that I do know for certain, however, are the 2016-2017 bar year will be exciting one for our section, and it can be even better with your involvement.

One of the many ways in which you can become involved is to serve on one of the section’s committees. Here you can find a link to the section’s leadership, including the committee chairs. If you are interested in joining one or more committees, I encourage you to contact me or the committee chair(s). Currently, many of our committees have only two or three members, consisting of individuals serving on the section’s council. We seek greater involvement in our committees by individuals not presently serving on the council, so the section’s leadership can benefit from input from a broader segment of the section.

Another way to become involved with the tax section is to attend meetings of the section council. The council’s next meeting will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 18 at the Elon School of Law in Greensboro. Prior to the council meeting there will be a roundtable discussion of various issues we as practitioners are facing. These discussions offer an excellent opportunity for section members to network, share strategies for dealing with tax authorities, and discuss federal and state tax law developments. After the council meeting, we will have our annual meeting with IRS representatives jointly with the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants. In addition to the November meeting, the council will meet on March 1 in Charlotte at the offices of K&L Gates. The final council meeting and the annual meeting of the section members will be at Kiawah Island, South Carolina on May 26 and May 27, respectively.

You can also become involved with the section by volunteering to participate in pro bono and other initiatives coordinated by section leadership. For example, members of the section’s Pro Bono Committee are once again assisting with the American Bar Association’s “Adopt-A-Base” Program by teaching tax return preparation courses to Armed Forces personnel at North Carolina military bases. The program augments the Military Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program by providing additional course instructors. Another current initiative of the section is to assist the Other Incorporated Entities Committee of the Business Law Section as it collects and considers proposals for changes to North Carolina’s Limited Liability Company Act. You should have received an e-mail regarding the Adopt-A-Base program from Helen Herbert on Sept. 29 and an e-mail from me regarding the LLC Act initiative on Aug. 24. Please contact me if you are interested in assisting with either of these important projects.

In addition to encouraging involvement in the section, I want to thank a few people, as I plan to do in each of my letters to the section this year. First, I thank Paul Topolka, the immediate past chair of the section. Paul’s leadership of the section last year was focused and efficient, and I am certain my tenure as chair will benefit greatly from my experience serving as Paul’s vice chair. Second, I believe I can speak for all of the section’s leadership in expressing gratitude to Rob Wall for the work he has done for our section over the past few years. In addition to serving on other section committees, Rob was one of the course planners for the section’s annual workshops in Kiawah Island each of the past three years, and was named the NCBA’s CLE Volunteer of the Year last year. Not limiting his willingness to volunteer to the tax section, Rob also serves on the NCBA Foundation’s CLE Committee and Planned Giving Committee. Finally, I thank Allie Petrova, who is the chair of the section’s Membership Committee and is also serving as the section’s liaison to the Young Lawyers Division. Increasing the section’s membership is critical our future, and Allie is working diligently to find ways to enhance the section’s appeal to new attorneys.

In closing, I encourage you to attend the section’s 16th Annual North Carolina/South Carolina/Georgia Tax Section Workshops to be held at beautiful and serene Kiawah Island, South Carolina over Memorial Day weekend, May 26-28, 2017, particularly if you have not attended the workshops previously. Course planners Isaac Bradley, Justin Hardy and Kevin May are working hard to put together a slate of top-notch speakers covering a variety of topics of interest to our members. To continue to hold the program in Kiawah in future years, we need it to be well-attended, so please consider joining us this year and ask others in your firms to do so.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you. Please let me know how we can make your membership in the Tax Section even more valuable to you in the future.

Joshua D. Bryant is the chair of the Tax Section and an attorney with Smith Anderson in Raleigh.