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The world of federal tax law has one constant: change. Those who practice in this area get used to an almost daily flow of regulations and rulings from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and federal agencies. We are always reviewing the latest revisions and looking ahead to those in process. A critical function of the section is to provide commentary to tax-writing committees in Congress, the Treasury Department and IRS regarding new proposals. In the past year, the section provided more than 40 comment letters on far-ranging tax issues. We see many of our suggestions become part of federal law, and other ideas dropped in response to our critical analysis. During the past year, many of the section’s efforts were focused on the far-reaching Internal Revenue Code � 409A. Part of the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, 409A creates a detailed regulatory system governing most nonqualified deferred-compensation plans. It was meant to curb abuses in the compensation area, particularly involving high-paid executives. As written, however, 409A and regulations promulgated thereunder affect everyone from small businesses to nonprofits and rank-and-file employees. Most employers will need to amend their deferred-compensation plans or face penalties. The section believes the regulations should be more narrowly focused, and we continue to comment on � 409A. We are in the process of educating our membership about the newly emerging issue of patenting tax strategies. Tax patents are classified as a subset of business method patents, and have been growing in number since 1998, when a federal circuit court approved the concept. Many of our members are just becoming aware of this issue, and what patenting means to the average tax practitioner and to taxpayers. We have held several informational sessions, and are continuing work with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to provide examiners with information about prior art, and to learn from them about what is considered novel and nonobvious in this area. Another issue that has been highlighted by Congress is the tax gap. That is the difference between what taxpayers owe each year and the amount of tax paid on a timely basis. The section recently cosponsored a national conference that took a multidisciplinary approach to analyzing the issue, featuring international behavioral experts, sociologists, academics, statisticians and others. Stanley L. Blend is incoming chair of the Section of Taxation. He is shareholder and chairman of the San Antonio law firm Oppenheimer, Blend, Harrison and Tate. For more information about the section, see www.abanet.org/tax.

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