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November 30, 2001
Need To Raise A Client Issue With Treasury Officials? Current and Former Treasury Attorneys Tell How It's Done
Are you working on a client matter that includes tax policy issues you want to discuss with Treasury officials? Contrary to the perceived wisdom, you can serve your client's needs even if you aren't a former Treasury or IRS employee. It might be easier if you had worked for the government before joining the private sector, but you really don't have to turn it over to someone else. The important point is that you need to know the process Treasury follows in setting policy. Then, you can influence that process.

Sheryl Stratton, reporter for Tax Notes magazine, has talked with current and former Treasury attorneys to find out how the process works. Who will Treasury see and how do you get that meeting? What tax matters fall within IRS jurisdiction and which ones fall within Treasury's?

One former Treasury official says that "who you know" at Treasury is less important than understanding how the process works so that you can speak with the right people at Treasury as they are forming their opinions on a matter. Treasury has a tradition of meeting with "any responsible person" who requests a meeting, according to Stratton's article. This is in part because the diversity of opinions helps Treasury officials make better decisions.

However, Treasury will turn down some meeting requests -- for example, if the taxpayer or taxpayer's counsel is raising an issue more properly within IRS jurisdiction. This line is drawn between "specific taxpayer matters" and "broader policy issues." That is, unless the specific taxpayer matter represents a broader tax policy issue likely to affect many taxpayers.

Stratton also covers other important issues relating to meetings at Treasury: Are they "lobbying" meetings that require the lobbyist to register with Congress? How do Treasury officials document their meetings with the private sector? How can you find out with whom Treasury officials have met and what they discussed?

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Media Release 2001-9

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