For many or perhaps even most of TEI's membership, the legislative process that resulted in the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (TRA '86) is a distant memory. Indeed, by the time I first became a head of global tax (it seems like yesterday, but it very much isn't), the provisions of TRA '86 were, by and large, fairly well understood and its regulatory framework established.
Fast-forward a generation.
Less than a year ago, with little debate, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) was enacted, upending decades of settled expectations about how our tax code operates and thrusting large segments of every corner of the tax community into heightened states of uncertainty. For me personally, no longer could I head into a business meeting with reasonable certitude about how the tax issues on that day's business agenda would likely be resolved. Settled principles were gone, replaced by new taxing regimes and unfamiliar terms and concepts, all without the benefit of a coherent public record about how everything was supposed to hang together. Subpart F has now become Darth Vader in the final scene of Return of the Jedi.
In one sense, this reality presents an enormous challenge to the in-house tax community, because we are responsible for formulating the tax positions of the companies we serve, documenting them, and reporting them in our financial statements, and, ultimately, on our tax returns. Yet, viewed differently, the era of the TCJA and beyond presents all of us with the opportunity to help shape the infrastructure for the new law and to guide and inform policymakers and regulators about how best to implement these new provisions, in ways that remain true to the spirit of the statute but without unduly encumbering tax compliance and administration.
In that spirit, I have cast my 2018-2019 presidential year as a challenge for TEI to "Elevate Our Profile and Communicate Our Value." For us at TEI, this oh-so-complex environment presents an enormous and perhaps unparalleled opportunity to translate our collective experience and practical insight into discussion and advocacy with tax regulators, legislators, policymakers, and staff.
My goals, in one way or another (found at www.tei.org), flow from the premise that by elevating TEI's profile in the tax marketplace, sharing our knowledge with policymakers, and communicating the value of TEI to the C suite, our ranks will grow, our prominence will be enhanced, and our future will be further secured.