2021 Benjamin F. Miller Award Acceptance Speech

Publication year2022
CitationVol. 31 No. 2
AuthorWritten by Troy M. Van Dongen
2021 BENJAMIN F. MILLER AWARD ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

Written by Troy M. Van Dongen

Chuck, thank you very much for your nice words.

I must say I am really thrilled to be receiving the 2021 Benjamin F. Miller Award. The list of past recipients of this award reads like a who's-who of state and local tax, so it's a great honor for me to be standing here today.

I would like to thank the Executive Committee of the Taxation Section for selecting me as the recipient of this distinguished award. I'm humbled to be on the list of recipients, including my colleagues Chuck Moll and Marcy Jo Mandel.

I'm also extremely grateful to my wife Helen, who could not be here today, but has given me tremendous support throughout the years.

We all know that what we do is a team sport. We elevate each other whether we are collaborating with great colleagues, or working on the other side of a challenging opponent. Like it or not, we're in the business of pushing each other to be better-you probably do like it, otherwise you wouldn't be here.

Over the years, I've had the fortune of working with some amazing lawyers in one capacity or another-many of which are at the conference, including of course my colleagues Chuck, Marcy Jo, and Elle Kaiser. My former colleague Brad Marsh, who received the Judson Klein Award yesterday. And, on the Bar, Valery Dickerson-another former recipient of the Miller Award-Chris Campbell, Adria Price, Lorraine Yu, and many others. You all elevated my game. I certainly hope I did the same for you.

When I meet other tax lawyers, I often ask how they got into the profession. Generally, for federal tax practitioners, the answer falls into one of two categories: those that got turned on to tax through education, like a college accounting class or tax course in law school; and those that just fell into the profession by chance-in other words, they started down one path of law, and then transitioned into tax without years of forethought.

For state and local tax lawyers, it's almost always by chance. Very few people entered law school with a goal of being a SALT lawyer. Personally, I evolved into this profession just like so many of you-by chance. And, importantly, I've come to love our tax community. We are so fortunate to be engaged in an area of law that regularly pushes us to bring our A-Game.

And for my fellow state and local tax attorneys that are here with us today, I'm sure everyone appreciates the advantage of practicing in California. Whether

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