American Bar Association
Section of Taxation: DIVERSITY COMMITTEE

Section of Taxation:

Message from the Chair

Welcome to the Diversity Committee website!

The ABA Section of Taxation enthusiastically embraces the concept of diversity, and believes that diversity in our membership brings a variety of unique and valuable skills and perspectives to the Section and to its lawyer members. The primary goals of the Diversity Committee are (i) to provide lawyers of color, women lawyers, LGBT lawyers, young lawyers, lawyers with disabilities, and lawyers from diverse backgrounds with opportunities to become involved in the ABA Section of Taxation and in the leadership of the Diversity Committee and other ABA Section of Taxation committees and (ii) to present programs on diverse areas of tax.

Diversity can be thought of in many different ways. Each person can bring a diverse perspective to any panel, whether it be with respect to ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, years of experience, geographic location, or professional background. We hope that you will consider adding your diverse prospective to our Committee.

Please check here periodically to see the programs the Committee is working on and what we have planned for the next meeting. We welcome new members to the Committee and also encourage suggestions for programs!

If you would like to be updated on the upcoming programs of the Diversity Committee, please join our committee and subscribe to our listserve or feel free to contact me. Please let me know if you have any ideas for panels or if you would like to participate on a panel!

We hope that you will become involved in our Committee and look forward to seeing you September 17-19, 2015 at the Joint Fall CLE Meeting in Chicago, IL!

-Cathy Fung, Chair

Committee Materials from Recent Meetings

Did you know thousands of pages of cutting-edge committee program materials are available to you as a Tax Section member? These documents contain analysis of the latest federal tax policy, initiatives, regulations, legislative forecasts, and planning ideas developed by the country's leading tax attorneys and government officials. Access these materials now.

Join Us



Fung, Cathy


Cano, Jairo
Ishmael, Olu

Committee Roster  


2015 Joint Fall CLE Meeting

Committee Events

Diversity Luncheon

September 18, 2015

Join us for lunch at the Diversity Luncheon!

Obergefell v. Hodges: Tax and Estate Planning Issues for Employers and Individuals

September 18, 2015

The Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges legalized same sex marriages in all states, triggering a number of federal tax law, state tax law, and ERISA requirements for employers and presenting various business planning and estate planning issues for individuals. Spousal benefits mandated by law may require amendments to an employer’s retirement plans, health plans, dependent care assistance plans, and cafeteria plans. Among the tax law issues that arise in both the federal and state law context are the consequences of providing health insurance coverage to a spouse. Estate planning opportunities for same sex couples now equal those only available in the past to opposite sex couples, and include considerations in the following areas: the drafting of wills, the creation of joint marital trusts, gifts in marriage, the preparation of end of life documents, and spousal rights of inheritance.

Moderator: Elizabeth R. Glasgow, Venable LLP, Los Angeles, CA

Panelists: Professor Lee-Ford Tritt, University of Florida, Levin College of Law, Gainesville, FL; Ray Prather, Prather Ebner LLP, Chicago, IL; Megan E. Hladilek,Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, Minneapolis, MN 

Elimination of Bias in the Profession: The Influence of Cultural Differences on Estate, Tax, and Employment Benefit Planning, Part I

September 18, 2015
In order to competently represent clients of diverse cultural backgrounds, lawyers must be aware of how cultural differences and cultural biases can affect estate planning decisions. As we work toward eliminating unintentional bias in the legal system and the profession, we need to be cognizant of how the questions we ask when we counsel our clients and the assumptions we make about their estate planning goals may make members of certain groups feel excluded, insulted, or ignored. Do you know which clients find questions about their property distributions after death to be offensive? Which clients view questions related to advance health care directives to be tantamount to hastening an older relative’s death? Can you distinguish between attitudes toward old age and elder abuse so that you can fulfill your special duties to clients who face mental or physical challenges? The panelists will discuss these questions, the ways in which diverse clients may view other important aspects of estate planning, and how to recognize and eliminate bias in advising diverse clients.

Moderator: Professor Amy Morris Hess, University of Tennessee College of Law, Knoxville, TN

Panelists: Chasity Sharp Grice, Poppel, Gomes & McIntosh, Memphis, TN; Professor Michelle Kwon, University of Tennessee College of Law, Knoxville, TN; Christopher G. Murrer, Venable LLP, Washington, DC

Co-sponsored by: ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Elimination of Bias in the Profession: The Influence of Cultural Differences on Estate, Tax, and Employment Benefit Planning, Part II

September 18, 2015
Cultural diversity affects a client’s views on employment benefits, including healthcare benefits. Understanding the viewpoints of culturally diverse groups is essential to the elimination of bias in the legal profession and in the practice of law, as well as access to justice for marginalized groups, including immigrants that lack legal status, immigrants that have legal status, and LGBT persons. The panelists will discuss biases such as recognition of normative approaches to legal issues that are not inclusive of all cultures, recognition of biases in approaching legal issues for individual and family concerns, and recognition of heteronormativity. The panelists will provide recommendations and best practices for dealing with these intercultural issues. Special issues confront a lawyer who represents an undocumented immigrant in planning for employment benefits, healthcare, and retirement. The panel will also consider planning issues related to US citizens who assist relatives immigrating to the US. Panelists will examine how different cultural norms affect clients’ views regarding family relationships, including domestic partners, same-sex partners and how these norms may require a change in approach to family benefits.

Moderator: Elizabeth Ysla Leight, Director of Government Relations and Legal Affairs, Society of Professional Benefit Administrators, Chevy Chase, MD

Panelists: Professor Lee-Ford Tritt, University of Florida, Levin College of Law, Gainesville, FL; Henry Talavera, Polsinelli PC, Dallas, TX; Audrey Kucia, Tax Law Specialist, Office of Associate Chief Counsel (TEGE), IRS, Washington, DC; Anna Tavis, South Brooklyn Legal Services, Brooklyn, NY
Co-sponsored by: ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

A Joint Employment Taxes and Diversity Committee Panel: Employment Tax Primer for Small Businesses: I’m Ready to Hire My First Employee. What Should I Know About Taxes?

September 18, 2015
2:30PM - 3:30PM
This panel will discuss the employment tax basics a practitioner will need to advise a small business in hiring its first employees or a client who is thinking of starting a business. The panel will use case studies to cover federal income tax withholding, social security and Medicare taxes, and federal unemployment tax, as well as deposit and reporting requirements. The panelists will address sections 3401, 3101, 3301 of the Internal Revenue Code and highlight IRS publications and websites useful to the practitioner and the taxpayer. The panelists will also focus on state and local payroll tax considerations.

Moderator: Priya McDonald, PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, Philadelphia, PA.

Panelists: Rebecca Wilson, Assistant Branch Chief, Employment Tax Branch 1, IRS Office of Associate Chief Counsel (TEGE), Washington, DC; Joseph Perera, Strasburger & Price, San Antonio, TX; Chaya Kundra, Kundra & Associates, PC, Rockville, MD

Co-sponsored with: Employment Taxes

Tax Bridge on the Road

September 17, 2015
Tax Bridge to Practice: A Conversation with…. Richard Lipton

One of the Section’s most esteemed members and former Section Chair, Dick Lipton sits down for an in-depth discussion of his practice, his history with the Section, and the latest developments in partnership and real estate transactions. In addition to his present role on Section Counsel, Dick is a member of the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Association Federal Tax Committee, and the American College of Tax Counsel. He also served on the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council. He is an adjunct professor at The University of Chicago Law School, where he teaches a course on partnership taxation. Tax Bridge to Practice is delighted and honored to have Dick as the first subject of our new “Conversations with…” series.


3:00-3:50 PM
Ethics in the Internet Age: Using Social Media

This interactive program will cover a variety of issues dealing with the increasing use of social media in marketing. The panelists will use a series of hypotheticals to address marketing during a time where sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn are a resource for information on legal talent and where blogging, texting, and endorsing can provide potential positive publicity for a lawyer. The panel will also focus on instituting best practices and avoiding ethical pitfalls when using social media for all attorneys, including government attorneys.

Moderator: Professor Michael B. Lang, Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law, Orange, CA

Panelists: Kirsten N. Witter, Branch Chief, Ethics and General Government Law Branch, Office of Associate Chief Counsel (GLS), IRS, Washington, DC; Anson H. Asbury, Asbury Law Firm, Atlanta, GA; Rachel L. Partain, Caplin & Drysdale, New York NY

Co-sponsored by: Standards of Tax Practice


4:00-4:50 PM
State Income, Double Taxation, and Tax Discrimination In The Post-Wynne World

States have the right to implement tax systems to tax their residents and out-of-state taxpayers provided that those systems do not infringe on the taxpayer’s Constitutional rights. In Maryland v. Wynne, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that Maryland’s tax was unconstitutional as applied to Maryland residents. This panel will offer a primer on these essential state tax concepts: what is income at the state level; double taxation tax discrimination; and the dormant commerce clause as well as offer insight into the Wynne decision, and the implications of the Wynne decision on other taxes.

Moderator: Jairo G. Cano, Agostino & Associates, PC, Hackensack, NJ Panelists: Stephen J. Blazick, Reed Smith LLP, Philadelphia PA.; Stewart M. Weintraub, Chamberlain, Hrdlicka, White, Williams & Aughtry, West Conshohocken, PA; Kelley C. Miller, Reed Smith LLP, Washington, DC

Co-sponsored by: State and Local Taxes


5:00-5:50 PM
Ethical Issues for Newer Attorneys

This panel will examine some of the ethical issues faced by attorneys new to practicing law. The panel will include issues such as client confidentiality, privileges, conflicts of interest, and state bar licensing. Panelists will discuss scenarios in which newer attorneys may find themselves in an ethical dilemma, the strategies to protect themselves in those situations, and overall best practices in the practice of law.

Moderator: Patrick W. Thomas, Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic, Indianapolis, IN

Panelists: The Honorable Cary Douglas Pugh, Judge, United States Tax Court, Washington, DC; Kate E. Ward, Venable LLP, Washington, DC; Alfred Bae, KPMG, Houston, TX

Co-sponsored by: Standards of Tax Practice Committee

Section Events

    Ethical Issues in Setting Engagement Terms


    As a general rule, lawyers are prohibited by state ethics rules from prospectively limiting their liability to clients for professional errors and omissions, either through terms in an engagement letter or the use of a limited liability entity structure. These rules raise a number of considerations that ...

    2016 ABA Section of Taxation May Meeting

    Grand Hyatt Washington

    The best ideas evolve when great minds come together! Join the ABA Section of Taxation for the 2016 May Meeting, May 5-7 in Washington, DC. This meeting brings together the nations leading tax practitioners to discuss current issues, topics and legislation. This two-day meeting will give you the resources ...

    Civil and Criminal Employment Tax Enforcement Efforts - Employers Beware


    The government has enjoyed a string of victories against taxpayers who do not collect, account for and deposit employment taxes, and lists employment tax enforcement among its top priorities. This panel will address the efforts of the IRS and the Department of Justice with respect to civil and criminal ...

Modified by Cathy Fung on September 7, 2015

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