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Summer 2019

Message From the Chair

chair message

Dear Taxation Section Members,

Tax Council stayed busy during the summer months working on several initiatives that tie to the Taxation Section’s Mission to educate members, engage in public policy, support pro bono initiatives, and facilitate networking opportunities for members.

On May 23, the Taxation Section hosted its 32nd Annual Tax Conference at the Inn at St. John’s. The event was well attended, and the new specialty break-out tracks offered in State and Local Tax, Federal Income Tax, Estates and Trusts, and Employee Benefits were well received by attendees. Tax Council is already busy planning the 33rd Annual Tax Conference, set for May 2020 at Inn at St. John's. Watch for more information in future Tax in the Great Lakes State editions.

A few years ago, the Section rolled out a new, annual Fundamentals of Tax program in the fall that attendees—newer tax attorneys, attorneys from other practices seeking a tax primer, as well as seasoned attorneys looking for a refresher on tax—have found beneficial and relevant. We are looking forward to another successful Fundamentals program on November 13 in Detroit: stay tuned for more information.

In line with the goal of improving tax policy, on August 7, 2019, the Taxation Section filed a motion to file an Amicus Curiae Brief in a sales and use tax case pending before the Michigan Supreme Court regarding the industrial processing exemption, TOMRA of North America, Inc v Michigan Department of Treasury, and the Supreme Court accepted the Brief for filing on August 14, 2019, as described in more detail below.

Tax Council’s hard work over the summer months is illustrative of all the work accomplished over the past year. Since I took over as Chair of the Taxation Section in September 2018, it has truly been a privilege and honor to serve on Tax Council with so many wonderful tax attorneys who have applied their energy, creativity, diligence, and intelligence together as a team toward efforts to make Tax Council and the services provided to the Section the best in class among SBM Sections. It has been a genuine pleasure working with the team currently serving on Tax Council, and I know the hard work will continue under new leadership into the next fiscal year.

J. Cook

Jackie J. Cook, Taxation Section Chair
The Mike Cox Law Firm, PLLC


Taxation Section Files Amicus Curiae Brief in TOMRA of North America v. MI Dep’t of Treasury

Hall of Justice

By Jackie J. Cook, Taxation Section Chair

On August 7, 2019, the Taxation Section filed a Motion for Leave to File an Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of TOMRA of North America, along with a copy of the Amicus Curiae Brief, in the sales and use tax case pending before the Michigan Supreme Court regarding the industrial processing exemption,  TOMRA of North America, Inc v. Michigan Department of Treasury. The Michigan Supreme Court granted the Motion and accepted the Brief for filing on August 14, 2019.  See the brief.

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Taxation Section Supports Pro Bono “Taxpayer Problem Solving Days”

By Robert D. Heitmeyer, IRS Office of Chief Counsel Detroit

Tax HelpMichigan taxpayers can receive free assistance with any federal, state, and/or local tax issue by attending any one of five events held around the state this year.  The cities where these events are being held include Lansing, Ypsilanti, Grand Rapids, Detroit, and Flint. These “Taxpayer Problem Solving Days” bring together tax professionals from many organizations. The professionals unite as a team for the day to provide a full complement of services to Michigan taxpayers. 

The team is very grateful to the State Bar of Michigan for providing its wonderful facility for the Lansing event and to Legal Services of South Central Michigan, which was a great venue for the Ypsilanti event.  The most recent event was held on August 12, at the Heart of Michigan United Way. The team continues to grow with each event. Participating professionals include representatives of the IRS Office of Chief Counsel, Michigan State University LITC, University of Michigan LITC, Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, State Bar of Michigan Taxation Section Pro Bono Panel, West Michigan Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, VITA, IRS Examination and Collection Divisions, IRS Taxpayer Advocate, State of Michigan Taxpayer Advocate, as well as representatives from the local tax departments where the event is held. 

By bringing together all these resources on the same day, a taxpayer can receive everything theytaxhelp2.jpg need to move their unresolved tax issues forward in a positive manner. A total of 52 taxpayers received valuable assistance at the most recent event and there have been many success stories from the first three events! Pictured above and below are the tax professionals participating at the event held in Lansing at the State Bar of Michigan, and also those participating at the event held in Ypsilanti, at Legal Services of South Central Michigan.

Everyone involved on the team deserves a lot of credit for the great things that are happening, and these events could not happen without the hard work and dedication of Josh Wease, current Tax Council member and Director of the Low Income Tax Clinic, and Nicole Appleberry, former Tax Council committee chair and professor with U of M’s Low Income Tax Clinic.

For more information, contact Robert Heitmeyer,, or Josh Wease,

Congratulations to Law Student Award Recipients

Each year, the Taxation Section recognizes outstanding tax law students by awarding them Tax Law Student Achievement Awards at the Annual Tax Conference. The following considerations serve as the primary criteria in selecting award recipients:

  • Nomination by one or more professors for outstanding academic performance in tax law-related courses;
  • Exceptional volunteerism through low-income tax clinics or other tax-based community service;
  • Involvement with the Taxation Section;
  • Publication of a substantive tax Article or Note in the Michigan Tax Lawyer (excluding Articles and Notes published as a result of winning student writing competition submissions).

The Taxation Section congratulates the following 2019 award recipients:

  • Jonathon Brignall, Western Michigan University Cooley School of Law
  • Ryan Marosy, University of Michigan Law School
  • Logan Methner, Michigan State University Law School
  • Elizabeth Karwacki, Michigan State University Law School

The Taxation Section is also pleased to announce the winner of its inaugural Law Student Writing Challenge, open to full or part-time law students attending an ABA-accredited law school located in the State of Michigan. Congratulations to Jonathon Brignall, Western Michigan University Cooley School of Law.

Update from the Michigan Tax Tribunal

By Samantha Snow Welton, Chief Clerk of the Michigan Tax Tribunal

swelton.jpgThe Tribunal is pleased to announce the appointments of Steven Bieda and Christine Schauer to the Michigan Tax Tribunal. Judge Bieda represents attorneys and was appointed the Chair of the Tribunal. Judge Schauer was appointed to fill the at-large Member position. Both Judge Bieda and Judge Schauer were appointed to serve four-year terms expiring on June 30, 2023. Please join the Tribunal in extending a warm welcome to Judge Bieda and Judge Schauer.

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Michigan Department of Treasury—Moves in the News

The Michigan Department of Treasury’s Business Tax Advisory Group reported the following news about recent leadership changes at the Department of Treasury. Michael Eschelbach, Bureau Director for Tax Policy, recently retired. Lance Wilkinson was named the new Director for the Bureau of Tax Policy, as of July 29. Stewart Binke accepted the position as the Administrator for the Tax Policy Division, as of August 26. Mr. Wilkinson can be reached at or by calling (517) 335-7477. Mr. Binke can be reached at or by calling (517) 335-7478.

Tax Council thanks Lynn A. Gandhi of Honigman for her service on the Business Tax Advisory Group as the representative of the Taxation Section and her continuous efforts to keep Tax Council informed about the Advisory Group’s activities.

Updated Tax Resources on the Taxation Section’s Website

tax resourcesThe Tax Section offers members a Tax Highlights summary of selected legislative and regulatory tax developments of general interest to tax practitioners. This is not a comprehensive reporter of all tax developments. YOUR input is welcome. You can submit proposals for topics to include by sending a message to Sean Cook at See the most recent edition of Tax Highlights.

The Taxation Section partners with the Michigan Court of Claims to make available Court of Claims Opinions and Orders issued in tax cases. Please visit the Taxation Section’s website to find Opinions and Orders issued through July 2019, as well as a comprehensive summary of all the Opinions and Orders issued since January 2018.

Join Us: Meetings & Conferences Coming Up

Please join us at an upcoming Taxation Section event. To stay current on Section events, please visit our Events page.

Annual Meeting & Past Chairs Networking Dinner

September 18, 5:00-8:00 p.m., the Townsend Hotel, 100 Townsend St., Birmingham

Please join the Section at its Annual Meeting & Past Chairs Networking Dinner at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham. The Annual Meeting is from 5:00–5:30 p.m., and the networking dinner is from 5:30–8:00 p.m. Cost for dinner: Taxation Section members-$40; Non-Section members-$60. Register today. No onsite registration available.

Tax Court Luncheon

September 23, 12:00-2:30 p.m., Doubletree Suites by Hilton, 525 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit

The Tax Court Luncheon provides an opportunity for interested practitioners and students to hear directly from Tax Court Judge Patrick J. Urda about the Tax Court. This will include a brief speech/presentation by the Judge, which will be followed by networking with fellow members. Register today. No onsite registration available. Cost: taxation section member-$20; government attorneys & law students-Free; all other registrants-$35.

Employee Benefits Committee DOL Presentation

October 17, 9:00-11:00 a.m.

Save the date! This is a possible joint SHRM/ASPPA event or "ERISA Talent Show."

Get Involved with the Tax Section

Join the Taxation Section today.

If you’re already a Taxation Section member, make sure to join a committee today. Members of our five committees have unique opportunities to get involved, such as writing opportunities or presenting at a conference or seminar.

Have an idea for an article? Contact our Michigan Tax Lawyer editor, Mindi Johnson,

Are you a newer tax attorney looking for other ways to contribute and get involved with the Taxation Section? Contact Taxation Section Chair Jackie Cook,