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December 5, 2011
The Best of 2011

Full Text Published by Tax Analysts®


State Tax Notes is pleased to announce its first annual awards edition. The magazine staff has compiled a list of the very best in our profession in four categories. The Person of the Year Award is given to the individual who had the most influence on state tax policy and practice. The Tax Lawyer of the Year is given to an attorney who is considered the best by his or her peers and adversaries. The Organization of the Year Award is awarded to the group that is relied on the most for tax information by those inside and outside the profession. And the Tax Administrator of the Year is awarded to the official who influences administration and collection nationwide.

The award recipients were selected based on interviews, polling, and input from the State Tax Notes editorial staff. Neither State Tax Notes nor Tax Analysts endorses the agendas or policy positions maintained by any of the listed individuals or organizations.


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Person of the Year

Joe Crosby

Joe Crosby is State Tax Notes' Person of the Year. Crosby recently joined MultiState Associates Inc., but spent the past 11 years with the Council On State Taxation. COST is a nonprofit trade association comprising nearly 600 multistate corporations engaged in interstate and international business. It is Crosby's work at COST that garnered him Person of the Year honors. Legislative staff and government affairs executives around the country were almost unanimous in naming Crosby the single most influential person in state taxation. Over the past year -- the past several years, really -- no one has been more successful in the state and local tax advocacy business than Crosby.

Joe CrosbyCrosby served COST as chief operating officer and senior director of policy. He managed COST's advocacy program and regularly testified before state legislatures and other state and national policymaking bodies. Before he worked at COST, Crosby was national director of state legislative services for Ernst & Young LLP, where he provided legislative monitoring, advocacy management, and coalition development services. Crosby is past president of the State Government Affairs Council, a national association of multistate government affairs executives, and he served on the board of directors of the Washington Area State Relations Group, another association of government relations professionals. He earned his bachelor's degree from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

Crosby is well known among legislators, their staffs, and tax professionals throughout the country. He was, as State Tax Notes' Doug Sheppard reported, the face of COST. Not everyone agrees with the positions COST has taken over the years. COST is a membership organization, and it pushes an agenda favorable to that membership. But there is no denying its influence on lawmakers. Although much of the credit for COST's success lies with Executive Director Doug Lindholm, Crosby was responsible for implementing many of the organization's strategies.

Crosby has been at the forefront of virtually every major policy debate concerning state taxes. In the past year alone, he publicly testified before the Rhode Island, Georgia, Indiana, and Kansas legislatures on issues ranging from combined reporting to deferred compensation to tax administration. But he also played an important role behind the scenes, influencing tax policy debates in Oklahoma, Alabama, Michigan, Maryland, Connecticut, Arkansas, California, and North Carolina.

Crosby was also instrumental in COST's lobbying efforts before Congress. He testified in favor of H.R. 1864, the Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act, before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law. He also advocated for the Business Activity Tax Simplification Act (H.R. 1439) before the same subcommittee.

During his tenure, Crosby was at the heart of numerous COST legislative victories across the country. Since the beginning of 2010, COST has managed to defeat mandatory combined reporting legislation in at least 12 states. It successfully opposed alternative minimum taxes in Maryland, retroactive taxes in Virginia, and forced combination in Georgia. It was key in defeating Montana's bid to essentially adopt worldwide combined reporting when tax havens are involved.

Crosby's influence is not limited to legislators and their staffs. Over the years, COST has made great efforts to expand its reach beyond the state capitols. Crosby has led those efforts. He has made presentations before almost every major tax organization in the country. In the past year, he has spoken before the American Legislative Exchange Council, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Business Council of New York State's Conference on State Taxation, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, the Council of State Chambers of Commerce, the Iowa Taxpayers Association, and many other organizations.

Again, COST's legislative and political successes are not attributable solely to Crosby. Lindholm assembled an excellent staff and built an organization of unparalleled influence in state taxation. But Crosby has been widely seen as the operational architect of those successes. Many legislators and staff told State Tax Notes that in considering significant state tax policy issues, they first looked at what position Crosby and COST took. That was particularly true of Democrats and liberal-leaning lawmakers. As one veteran staff member told State Tax Notes, "Whether we agreed with him or not, we needed to know where Joe and COST stood on an issue."

The Rest of the Top 10 Individuals Who Influenced Tax Policy and
Practice

Nick Johnson,
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Joe Huddleston,
Multistate Tax Commission

Michael Mazerov,
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Doug Lindholm,
Council On State Taxation

Joe Henchman,
Tax Foundation

Warren Townsend,
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Art Rosen,
McDermott Will & Emery LLP

George Isaacson,
Direct Marketing Association

Stephen Kranz,
Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP

Tax Lawyer of the Year

Jeff Friedman

Jeffrey A. Friedman is State Tax Notes' Tax Lawyer of the Year. Friedman is a partner in the Washington office of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP. He is not as well known as some veteran practitioners, like Paul Frankel or Peter Faber. But business executives are increasingly turning to Friedman for both high-profile tax controversy work and sophisticated planning. He has become a leading practitioner in both income and sales taxation. And he has developed a national practice in the complicated area of state taxation of the telecommunications industry.

Before joining Sutherland, Friedman was a partner in KPMG's Washington National Tax practice, where he served as the reviewing partner on state income and tax planning matters for the firm's largest clients. Before KPMG, he served as an attorney-adviser in Treasury's Office of Tax Policy. There Friedman helped develop the U.S. government's position on domestic and international electronic commerce tax issues. And before his stint at Treasury, Friedman served as vice president and counsel for the COST. Friedman's work for COST included both litigation and advocacy on behalf of the largest U.S. corporations. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Maryland and his LLM from Georgetown University Law Center.

Friedman's recent work has included representing GenOn Energy Inc. (one of the largest independent power companies in the nation), Microsoft Corp., Comcast, Expedia, Duke Energy, and Morgan Stanley. In a time of specialization, Friedman has developed a practice in a wide variety of state and local tax areas, including electronic commerce, energy, corporate income, and sales. His work has spanned litigation, audit, and legislative advocacy. One tax executive with a Fortune 500 company described Friedman as "an old-school generalist who knows a lot about all areas of tax."

Friedman is also a frequent speaker at tax conferences around the country. He is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law School. And he is a regular contributor to A Pinch of SALT, a monthly column in State Tax Notes.

Friedman's work has received praise from both practitioners and government attorneys. More than one of his peers and many business tax executives named him the lawyer they would engage if they faced a state and local tax problem. And numerous government lawyers told State Tax Notes that Friedman was simply the best state tax lawyer in the country.

The Rest of the Top 10 Tax Lawyers

Stephen Kranz,
Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP

Art Rosen,
McDermott Will & Emery LLP

Kyle Sollie,
Reed Smith LLP

Charles Trost,
Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis

Hollis Hyans,
Morrison Foerster

Craig B. Fields,
Morrison Foerster

William M. Backstrom Jr.,
Jones, Walker, Waechter, Poitevent, Carrére & Denégre LLP

Bruce Ely,
Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

Kimberly Reeder,
Morgan Lewis

Organization of the Year

Tax Foundation

The Tax Foundation is State Tax Notes' Organization of the Year. State Tax Notes asked a wide variety of professionals in and outside the tax field the following question: What organization do you rely on the most for state and local tax information? The overwhelming choice was the Tax Foundation. Over the past decade, the foundation has become a source of data, studies, and other fiscal information for tax professionals, legislative staffs, media, governmental affairs offices, and academics.

For many, Tax Foundation is viewed as a conservative organization. And in its 60-plus years, the foundation has often sided with those advocating lower tax burdens. But invariably it is cited for its solid data collection and analysis. More importantly, the Tax Foundation gets high marks for its commitment to the principles of sound tax policy. Indeed, its tax policy positions have been praised in the pages of State Tax Notes on many occasions. The Tax Foundation's reliable data and sound principles have led many people from widely varying political perspectives to depend on its information.

The foundation is relied on by major news organizations, public finance scholars, and legislative staff more than any other organization. Only the U.S. Census Bureau and the Federation of Tax Administrators come close. Among the information most in demand are the foundation's information tools and data project. The foundation provides interactive data on tax rates and tax burdens. It compiles a widely cited state business tax climate index. Consistent with its conservative roots, the foundation also produces a famous, albeit controversial, annual Tax Freedom Day report. It also publishes an annual Facts & Figures handbook, which compares the 50 states on 40 different measures of taxing and spending, including individual and corporate income tax rates, business tax climate, excise taxes, tax burdens, and state spending.

But it is on the policy side that the foundation receives most of its compliments from tax professionals. From a traditional tax policy perspective, the foundation has been on the correct side of most state and local tax issues in the past decade. And appropriately, it has received high marks from both liberals and conservatives. For example, the foundation has long criticized the use of tax incentives to spur economic development. Long before crony capitalism entered the lexicon, the Tax Foundation opposed attempts to use tax policy to favor particular industries. Most recently, it has led the fight against the proliferation of film industry tax credits. It is one of the few organizations that consistently oppose the use of sales tax holidays. It has also criticized the overuse of excise taxes and the proliferation of gambling as a means of paying for government.

Joseph D. HenchmanLiberal lawmakers and organizations are often critical of the Tax Foundation's positions. But State Tax Notes found that even the most ardently liberal legislators acknowledged, often grudgingly, that the foundation was generally right in its approach to tax policy. The influence of the Tax Foundation in the state and local tax world is due largely to Joe Henchman. Henchman serves as the foundation's vice president of legal and state projects, as well as its vice president of operations. He is a frequent speaker at tax conferences around the country and regularly testifies before legislative bodies. Through his efforts, the foundation has been at the forefront of every important state tax policy debate. Henchman received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and his law degree from George Washington University.

The Rest of the Top 10 Organizations

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

National Conference of State Legislatures

Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Direct Marketing Association

Multistate Tax Commission

Federation of Tax Administrators

Council On State Taxation

American Legislative Exchange Council

Americans for Tax Reform

Tax Administrator of the Year

Margaret "Missy" Fulton

Margaret "Missy" Fulton is State Tax Notes' Tax Administrator of the Year. Fulton is the assistant commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Revenue. In an era of significantly reduced resources, Fulton was instrumental in successfully dealing with her department's severe budget cuts. The New Hampshire DOR faced a sudden, unexpected reduction in funding. Its budget was cut 30 percent. Its staff was cut an astounding 43 percent. The department lost 39 percent of its audit staff. Also, it lost funding for its entire call center and customer service unit, the director of documents processing, the assistant director of the Collections Division, the assistant director of the Municipal Services Division, the taxpayer advocate, and the only position that provided oversight on forms development and the website. Few leaders in government or the private sector could lead their organizations through such a cataclysmic budget crisis. Yet Fulton is credited by those in and outside New Hampshire with managing a seemingly unmanageable problem.

Margaret L. FultonBefore joining the DOR in 2005, Fulton practiced law in a variety of areas for 19 years. She served as an assistant attorney general for the New Hampshire Department of Justice, where she practiced administrative law, labor and employment law, real estate and property litigation, and eminent domain, as well as contract, construction, and tort litigation. Fulton received her undergraduate and law degrees from Suffolk University in Boston. She has been the DOR's assistant commissioner since 2005 and was the acting commissioner during the fall of 2008. She is now serving in her second term. She was a 2010 Toll Fellow at the Council of State Governments.

Fulton was instrumental in developing and advancing several technology initiatives, including the "Single Taxpayer View" project, designed to streamline information sharing among various DOR offices and improve data quality and accessibility. She also led several other technological innovations in New Hampshire, including those involving document processing and property tax administration. The department's system and process re-engineering will allow it to work smarter, think differently, and react more effectively. The analytics the DOR is building into its legacy systems will provide for better-informed tax policy discussions across the state. More than one tax official told State Tax Notes that the innovations in New Hampshire will be studied and copied by many other states.

As one influential leader in the field told State Tax Notes: "Instead of curling up and dying, which is what I would have done, she [Fulton] launched an aggressive new plan of improvements, mostly through technology and reporting, that will allow them to make efficient use of the resources they have remaining."

New Hampshire Revenue Commissioner Kevin Clougherty had this to say about Fulton:


    Over the past two years, Missy has been instrumental in implementing a number of technology and policy initiatives aimed at streamlining Department of Revenue operations and enhancing the content and transparency of information available to elected officials and the public. Missy's efforts will ensure that the state of New Hampshire's tax programs run reliably and efficiently well into the future. This is particularly important given the economic realities of today. Without question, the initiatives underway would not be successful if it were not for Missy's leadership.

The Rest of the Top 10 Tax Administrators

Bruce Johnson, chair,
Utah State Tax Commission

Linda Tanton, deputy comptroller,
Maryland

Craig Burns, commissioner,
Virginia Department of Taxation

Marshall Stranburg, general counsel,
Florida Department of Revenue

Cory Fong, tax commissioner,
North Dakota

Patrick Carter, director,
Delaware Division of Revenue

David Sullivan, administrator,
Rhode Island Division of Taxation

Brian Hamer, director,
Illinois Department of Revenue

Cynthia Bridges, secretary,
Louisiana Department of Revenue

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