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Kenneth Gideon In the world of tax law, Kenneth Gideon is a triple threat. The 58-year-old Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom partner has a combination of high-level government experience, a formidable track record in court, and one of the most visible positions in the tax bar as chairman of the American Bar Association’s Section of Taxation. “Ken is just an outstanding lawyer,” declares Joseph Schiffhouer, vice president of tax and employee benefits law for the FedEx Corp. “He has an encyclopedic knowledge of federal tax law, and he’s a great litigator of tax issues. He can see to the essence of a matter quickly � what’s important and what isn’t.” Gideon, a former chief counsel for the Internal Revenue Service, nailed down a major victory for FedEx in February, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit upheld a 2003 district court decision. As both trial and appellate counsel, Gideon and Skadden partner Albert Turkus convinced the courts that the company’s aircraft engine maintenance costs were deductible, not capital, items. As a result, FedEx got a refund of more than $70 million for tax years 1993 and 1994. But the impact of the decision is much broader, notes Schiffhouer, since the company performs engine maintenance every year. Indeed, “it’s a very significant case across the industry,” he says. Another appellate win for Gideon came in 2000, when the 9th Circuit vacated and remanded a U.S. Tax Court decision adverse to his client, the InterHotel Co. The case involved partnership allocation rules under Section 704 of the Internal Revenue Code. A year later, the Tax Court issued a new decision favorable to InterHotel. And in 1997, Gideon persuaded the 2nd Circuit to reverse the Tax Court’s decision in Saltzman v. Commissioner. The 2nd Circuit held that a transfer of trust property by a trustee (Gideon’s client) to a nonbeneficiary did not constitute a gift for tax purposes. Aside from litigation, Gideon assists corporate clients with audits and tax-controversy matters. In 2002, he and Skadden partners Fred Goldberg Jr. and Jody Brewster helped a group of automobile financiers successfully resolve a dispute over how to report upfront payments on car leases for tax purposes. Gideon also spends a significant amount of time securing published guidance from the IRS for his clients. For example, he has worked with investment banks to secure guidance on contingent convertible debt instruments and purchase-contract/note units. Kevin Dolan, senior vice president for tax policy and product development at Merrill Lynch & Co., says he calls upon Gideon for “very difficult issues dealing with the government, anything requiring sensitive judgment.” “He has a wonderful relationship with government folks,” Dolan continues. “He has a long reputation of credibility. He shoots straight. He says what he believes, and people believe what he says.” Gideon earned his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1971. A native Texan, he joined Fulbright & Jaworski in Houston and made partner in 1978. In 1981, Gideon, who had many connections to Texas supporters of President Ronald Reagan, was named IRS chief counsel, working under Commissioner Roscoe Egger Jr. “I always wanted to do government service, and it was a great opportunity,” says Gideon, who served as the IRS’ top lawyer until 1983. He describes the job as “like trying to take a drink from a fire hose.” When he returned to Fulbright & Jaworski, he joined the firm’s D.C. office. Then in 1986, he moved to Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. In 1989, Gideon returned to government work, serving as assistant treasury secretary for tax policy until 1992. In that position, he acted as the administration’s representative on tax issues to Congress and the public, dealing with everything from pension regulations to intangible assets. The latter effort ultimately led to the passage of Section 197 of the Internal Revenue Code. After his second stint in public service, Gideon joined the firm that was then called Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering. And in 2000, he jumped to Skadden. As co-leader of Skadden’s national tax litigation practice, Gideon is surrounded by an all-star team of lawyers. Notable colleagues include former IRS Commissioner Goldberg, international specialist Paul Oosterhuis, and Treasury and IRS veteran Pamela Olson.

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