The Tax Institute examines strategies shaped by COVID, inflation, AI

Kaitlyn McQuown • February 14, 2024
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The Tax Institute brought together hundreds of tax professionals at its 2024 conference January 22-24. The continuing legal education institute, titled “Tax Strategies for a Puzzling Environment,” explored the latest industry trends and highlighted changes due to recent legislation and administration changes.

Hosted by USC Gould School of Law, the three-day conference brought together more than 400 tax lawyers, accountants and other professionals who either attended online or in person at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, a new venue for the Institute.

Each year, the Tax Institute features a keynote lecture in honor of the late Edward Kleinbard, USC Gould professor, tax expert and regular speaker at the institute.

Former Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service Chuck Rettig delivered the 2023 Edward Kleinbard Keynote, discussing the role the IRS played during and following the COVID-19 pandemic and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

 “Talking about the stimulus payments, the economic impact payments, and doing all of that during COVID is is a real tribute to the employees of the Internal Revenue Service,” he said. 

The second day of the institute opened with an overview of recent developments in partnership and real estate guidance led by Eric B. Sloan and James Jennings of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

Keynote Speaker Ivan Roussev, Senior Manager & AI Leader at EY’s Tax Technology and Transformation Practice, discussed the practical applications of artificial intelligence and provided a framework for success specifically tailored to the tax and legal professions.

Artificial intelligence, Roussev said, is expanding at an exponential rate and tax professionals should embrace it as a tool in order to increase efficiency and maximize success as the technology continues to develop and become more specific. 

“General tools are built for general purposes. But you are not generalists; you’re specialists, right?” said Roussev. “The ultimate landing space will be things that are ultra prioritized to you, situational. If you’re having to deal with a jury, think about AI that can scour information on the Internet about every single one of the jurors and try to give you an idea of how they may react to different arguments that you may make, how you may appear.”

The final day of the institute centered on recent changes in estate tax law, tips for how to best serve clients and predictions for future developments.

In his luncheon keynote, titled “Section 501(c)(4) Social Welfare Organizations: An Alternative to Private Foundations and Donor Advised Funds,” David S. Miller, Partner at Proskauer, outlined the benefits and drawbacks of social welfare organizations as compared to private foundations and donor advised funds, and an analysis of the future of 501(c)(4)s. 

“501(c)(4) is really the alternative to private foundations,” said Miller. “The trade-off is, of course, that the donor doesn’t get a charitable deduction.” However, Miller explained that “extremely high income, high wealth people” can’t use the charitable deduction, because of their very little income tax. “So that loss of the charitable deduction for the extremely wealthy isn’t a loss at all. And the benefits of a 501(c)(4) is there are no deficits.”

After the luncheon keynote presentations each day, attendees proceeded to session tracks of their choosing, covering corporate tax, partnerships and real estate tax planning, individual tax planning, and ethics, compliance and enforcement.

Concurrent evening workshops allowed attendees to explore specific facets of tax law in greater detail. Panels of experts discussed emerging trends in the entertainment industry, considerations regarding attorney competency and potential impairment, the impact of the BBA, discussions on bias and stereotypes, and insights into the Secure Act.

Dozens of experts throughout the institute addressed how tax law has adapted in response to fluctuations due to recent elections, global economic shifts and current events. 

In the session “Fiduciary Income Tax for Planners,” Christopher Siegle, Managing Director and Wealth Advisor at J.P. Morgan Private Bank, discussed various federal and California rules that, when combined with careful trust drafting, can benefit grantors and beneficiaries. 

“Fiduciary income tax is perhaps one of the most integrated questions of our practice, our combined practice,” said Siegle. “As I look out in the audience and see lawyers, CPAs, others, we can all combine on this topic to figure out how we can benefit our clients.”

Established in 1948, the Tax Institute has remained a cornerstone event in the industry, drawing numerous attendees who return regularly, some for decades. The 2024 conference provided in-person participants with a thorough experience including networking and catered meals in the heart of business in downtown Los Angeles.

The institute also offered a virtual attendance experience for remote attendees, who were also given on-demand access to recorded sessions to view at their convenience from across the country.

USC Gould School of Law offers continuing legal education opportunities for professionals who want to learn and network with leading experts in their industries. A fixture of the Los Angeles legal community since 1948, USC Gould Continuing Legal Education hosts six annual conferences for professionals at every level to learn from, and network with, the biggest players in entertainment, estate planning, business, tax and intellectual property. To learn more, visit or subscribe at – and follow on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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