Education and Engagement Remain Front and Center for TEI Members

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Sandhya Edupuganty, TEI International President

It’s been a little over a month since we convened for our 74th Midyear Conference, but the impressions are vivid, whether from the Fireside Chat with IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel and Deputy Commissioner Doug O’Donnell; the myriad rich and pertinent educational sessions, often with government speakers; the member industry roundtable lunches; the generous sponsor parties that seem to get better every conference; and TEI’s Tuesday evening reception, with a “Rock of Ages” theme. There were many Elvis Presleys in the room that Tuesday evening, although I am quite sure I saw the real Elvis hanging out with Tina Turner!

The deputy commissioner had rich and varied questions for the commissioner for their chat, and the commissioner had thoughtful and honest answers for our members. The mutual respect the two have for each other and the respect they have for taxpayers, our members, and improving access to and responsiveness of the Internal Revenue Service were very apparent throughout the session. For many years, TEI members have benefited from the deputy commissioner’s openness to feedback and input. The commissioner reiterated the request for members to reach out and provide inputs as the IRS attempts to address challenges and opportunities with the modernization funding it received under the Inflation Reduction Act.

A key takeaway from the commissioner’s comments, which we can apply in our day-to-day jobs, is ensuring that we understand our managers’ priorities and that our team understands our priorities. Seems quite simple, but really, do you know, and do you communicate?

If nothing else, let’s remember the commissioner’s comment that he “practices brevity.” This would be necessary in his role as commissioner for addressing questions that come to his office, the responses to which are often complex and multilayered but must be clear, concise, and transparent. Sound familiar? That is our job, all day and every day, at every stage of our careers. Regulations and tax law changes around the world continue to get broader and deeper—often in a one-dimensional way, even as we live in a multidimensional world. We must interact at all levels of ones’ career to get our message across in a clear and concise manner. Practice usually does make perfect—so let’s practice. I ask myself when I go to the doctor, do I want to know all the medical, chemical, and physiological aspects of a condition at the molecular level, or do I want to know and understand the remedy? Almost always, it’s the latter.

TEI especially appreciates the participation of government speakers who took the time to share their expertise and insight on everything from how predictive AI programs fit into new tax enforcement strategies to updates on federal and state tax policies and changes to existing regulations.

The Tuesday plenary session with national leaders from accounting firms weighing in on what’s next at the OECD was informative and interesting with regard to status of guidance and reflections on when and how the United States might weigh in on Pillar Two and other OECD initiatives, such as global mobility. This session made me so proud of how our member volunteers continue to be at the forefront of rapid changes that are to come and how we can provide practical examples of impact on taxpayers that lawmakers should consider. Thank you to our tireless EMEA Chapter’s Direct and Indirect Tax committees for asking for and getting a seat at the OECD table. We continue to be invited back for our input. Such is the respect that we can garner as TEI members. We have done so throughout TEI’s history, with the IRS, the Department of Treasury, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), and Canada Revenue Agency, to name a few. There is no “easy” button for any of these efforts; all require dedication and commitment.

The satisfaction that comes from being able to enact change, whether large or small, is not easy to describe, but it nonetheless sustains. Altruism in tax? Yes, there is such a thing. Try it; you’ll like it. So, as we head into late spring and early summer, there are many opportunities for us to reflect on how we can grow the number of ways we advocate for our profession and engage with each other. Almost every topic you raise will have a resolution that waits to be addressed. Our members continue to chart new paths of opportunity for engagement, such as engaging with the FASB, especially since the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and with the IRS on its technology initiatives. Liaising with government agencies around the world, whether as smaller sessions through video conferencing or in-person meetings, establishes trust and lends a voice to taxpayers faced with the practical aspects of laws to be enacted and guidance to be issued. Let’s raise our hand if we haven’t yet been asked, and let’s continue to show up when we are asked. It’s not easy, but I believe most of us chose a career in tax because we loved the complexity and ability to solve problems.

The ability to honor and commemorate the years of volunteerism of our members, whether through their roles as TEI officers or, equally important, as committee members for various initiatives and on executive committees through the years, is special. We honored two such storied volunteers at Midyear. As our pipeline of experienced and knowledgeable volunteers pivots away from tax as their primary focus, please step forward and help
us continue to be effective. It takes all of us.

Last but not least, among many important initiatives the TEI staff has been working on, TEI’s new online member-only community, TEI Engage, has launched. TEI Engage is easy to use and will change the way TEI’s membership communicates and learns from each other. TEI Engage promises to be a game changer. I look forward to seeing you online or at one of TEI’s upcoming events!


Sandhya Edupuganty
TEI International President


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