Craig D. Bell, Chair

The Virginia State Bar’s Taxation Law Practice Section had approximately 740 members throughout the July 2018 – June 2019 fiscal year.

The Tax Law Practice Section stabilized and put forward a number of activities and events during the 2018-2019 fiscal year.  

We are close to standing up a slate of governors representing all areas of Virginia. Six governor representatives from the Tidewater-Hampton Roads, Central Virginia, and Western Virginia areas agreed to serve as new governors.  Two additional candidates are being sought from Northern Virginia.  When complete the new board of governors will be appointed to their terms of office. The new governors will represent a diversified tax practice including in-house tax counsel, private tax practitioners from small, medium and large law firms, and a representative from a Low-Income Tax Clinic.  The focus of section activities will be on both transactional tax matters, as well as federal, state and local tax controversy practice areas.

During the past fiscal year, the Tax Law Section served as co-sponsor of the William & Mary Law School Tax Conference. The section had several of its members serve on the Program Committee for the Tax Conference and five of its members made presentations at the three-day conference held at the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg on November 7-9, 2018. Approximately 160 lawyers and accountants attended the tax conference. The section also provided financial support for the program.

The Tax Section also served as a co-sponsor of the University of Virginia Federal Tax Conference held in Charlottesville on June 6-7, 2018. Again, our section was active in planning the content for the conference as well as providing multiple speakers for the two-day event.  The section also provided financial support for the program.  The program was well received, with approximately 155 attendees hosted at UVA’s Law School.  

For the first time in many years, the Tax Section (in conjunction with the Real Property Section and the Trusts and Estates Section) co-sponsored a CLE titled “The Grim Reaper:  Death, Taxes and Real Estate” at the Virginia State Bar’s 81stAnnual Meeting in Virginia Beach, Virginia.  Our section’s representative on the panel was Brad Ridlehoover (McGuireWoods LLP).  

While the Tax Section accomplished a number of worthwhile and helpful activities during the fiscal year, I do want to let you know that we are seeing a troubling trend for those of our members who regularly appear before the U.S. Tax Court when the court travels to Virginia.  The U.S. Tax Court traditionally comes to Richmond and Roanoke twice a year, typically in the Spring and Fall seasons.  When holding court in Richmond, the Tax Court is provided a courtroom and Marshall Service protection in either the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit or in the Eastern District of the U.S. District Court.  Both facilities have ample space to accommodate court personnel as well as the parties, counsel, and witnesses.  Over the past few years a developing problem occurs when the U.S. Tax Court is not able to hold court at its regular terms in Richmond and having to move and hold court in other jurisdictions, including Charlottesville and Newport News where there is a federal court in order to conduct the U.S. Tax Court’s docket and trial sessions.  

When a taxpayer files his or her petition with the U.S. Tax Court, the taxpayer is afforded the opportunity to select the location for the trial.  Richmond and Roanoke are the only two options provided for Virginia, and plans are made accordingly.  When subsequently these taxpayers are notified of their trial date about three-five months before trial, the taxpayer is advised to go to another Virginia city. Upon inquiry, I am told the Tax Court is informed no court rooms are being made available on the scheduled trial dates.  On several occasions when this occurs the Virginia tax controversy bar is left wondering how this happens given the existence of a new large U.S. District Courthouse in Richmond and a full city block appellate courthouse.  For over twenty-five years the scheduling problems never occurred.  However, the past two years in a row, the problem exists.  We will continue to monitor the situation and reach out to the respective courts to see how this lack of court room availability might be avoided for future sessions of the U.S. Tax Court.  However, as I write these remarks, I received six notices of trial from the U.S. Tax Court advising me these six cases will be held for trial in Charlottesville and not Richmond.  The problem appears to becoming systemic….  

Craig D. Bell
Chair, Taxation Section

Updated: Jul 11, 2019