40 years in Tax – a Look Backward (As Well as Forward)
APR 2, 2014
4:30 PM - 5:30 PM
Don Korb has been involved in the practice of tax law for over 40 years, both as a private practitioner and as a tax administrator. He plans to talk about how the U.S. federal income tax system has changed over his career as well as how the role of tax advisors and practitioners has evolved over that same time period. He will speak from the standpoint of someone who has moved back and forth between the private and public sectors and not only has sat on “both sides of the table” but he has also occupied leadership positions at the IRS (Assistant to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue in the mid-1980’s and Chief Counsel for the IRS from April, 2004 through December, 2008) which allowed him to play a significant role in some of the changes to the tax system and the evolution of the role of tax advisors/practitioners which have occurred since he began practicing law in the early 1970’s.
Donald L. Korb is currently a tax partner at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP where he leads the firm’s Tax Controversy Practice. Prior to joining Sullivan & Cromwell, Don served as the Chief Counsel for the Internal Revenue Service from April 2004 until December 2008.
As Chief Counsel, Don was the chief law officer for the IRS, supervising approximately 1,500 attorneys who were assigned to the IRS National Office and among the major operational divisions of the agency. He played a prominent role in increasing the effectiveness of the Chief Counsel’s Office, and is best known for developing the litigation strategy that led to the stunning success by the government in litigating tax shelter cases during his four-and-a-half-year tenure.
Among the individual matters with which Don was personally involved while Chief Counsel was serving as the lead negotiator in resolving a landmark transfer pricing dispute. As part of the settlement, the taxpayer made the largest single payment ever made to the IRS to resolve a tax dispute.
Prior to his service as the Chief Counsel, Don worked twice before in the public sector. In the mid-1980’s, he served more than two years as an Assistant to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue (during that time, he was the overall coordinator of the IRS’s involvement in the legislative process that resulted in the enactment of the landmark Tax Reform Act of 1986) and, at the beginning of his career in the mid-1970’s, he worked four years as an attorney adviser in the IRS Chief Counsel’s Office.
In addition to his tenure in the public sector, Don has over 28 years of private practice experience, the majority of it as a tax partner at the Thompson Hine law firm, including serving at one time as the chair of that firm’s Tax Group. Most of Don’s private practice experience has consisted of tax controversy matters. Some of the clients Don has represented or currently represents include a rock star; a symphony orchestra; some of the world’s largest financial institutions and brokerage firms; a major airline; a national retailer; several of the nation’s largest real estate developers; large multinational manufacturing, publishing, computer software, distribution, entertainment, water and construction corporations, some of which are headquartered outside of the U.S.; tax exempt entities; and small closely held business entities in the fast food, automobile dealership and healthcare industries.
Don has authored numerous articles regarding national and international tax controversy and dispute resolution issues (including “The Four Rs Revisited: Regulations, Rulings, Reliance and Retroactivity in the 21st Century – A View From Within,” in CCH’s Taxes – The Tax Magazine (an August 2009 update of former IRS Chief Counsel Mitchell Rogovin’s important 1965 treatise)) and over his career has made hundreds of speeches on tax related topics.
Don is a graduate of the Case Western Reserve University School of Law and also earned a Masters in Taxation degree from the Georgetown University Law Center.
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