The citizens of Montana and the state and local tax community have lost a talented public servant and great friend. C.A. Daw, chief legal counsel of the Montana Department of Revenue from January 2007 until his death, died May 1. At age 60, he left us too soon.
C.A. was a brilliant attorney and a nationally recognized expert in state and local taxation. He began his legal career with the Idaho State Tax Commission and in 1989 moved to private practice before joining the DOR in 2007. He was the rare private sector attorney whose primary work involved defending state tax agencies, especially in centrally assessed property cases and 4-R Act litigation. His wise legal guidance to the Montana DOR was a major reason why the Montana Supreme Court often approved of the DOR's work during his tenure.
C.A. contributed greatly to the work of national organizations including the International Association of Assessing Officers and the National Conference of Unit Valuation States. The association recently recognized C.A. for 25 years of contributions to developing assessment standards, including writing textbooks on appraisal methods.
After C.A. joined the Montana DOR, we learned that his talents extended well beyond taxation. With an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering, he had an advanced knowledge of mathematics, statistics, and computers -- knowledge that he put to good use for the agency. As chief counsel, he would address with ease matters of administration, personnel, contracts, liquor law administration, and other areas.
C.A. was a strong advocate for justice and equity in taxation, for the DOR adhering carefully and fully to the law, and for protecting the rights of individual taxpayers. One colleague said, "In just seven years as chief legal counsel for the department, C.A. made a lasting impact on tax administration in Montana, with equity, fairness, and ethics the hallmarks of his legacy. These principles, C.A.'s legacy, are reflected in Montana tax law, administrative rules, and in many department practices."
While C.A. stood firm for what he thought was right, he was also a gentle and kind person, and he mentored many young attorneys to excellence. He treated people with dignity, respect, and friendship, and he genuinely cared for those around him. As one staff member recalled, "Even though C.A. was involved in serious litigation with major entities and individuals to pay their fair share of taxes, he was always respectful of those he would go up against."
C.A. had a wonderful, wry sense of humor. One colleague said he was "one of the funniest men" she knew. Many of us would agree.
C.A. was a dear friend who will be greatly missed by those closest to him, including his family, friends, and colleagues. In ways that will not always be realized, the people of Montana will also miss him.
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