TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why Is the DOJ Tax Division Still Without a Leader?

DOJ Logo With yesterday's Senate confirmation of Deputy Attorney General James Cole, Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Counsel Virginia Seitz, and Assistant Attorney General for National Security Lisa Monaco, only one top Department of Justice position remains unfilled:  Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division.  President Obama has not nominated anyone for the position since his initial choice for the position, Mary L. Smith, was forced to withdraw over nine months ago in the face of Republican opposition over her lack of any tax experience.

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The Tax AAG slot is usually one of the last ones filled. It is not one of the high-visibility positions, like OLC AAG or Criminal AAG. Complicating matters, presidents tend to try to fill the position with "tax lawyers," who generally make humongous amounts of money in the private sector and are unwilling to do the low-prestige, low-$$ sojourn at DOJ Tax. Ironically, the Tax Division does more straight-up commercial and bankruptcy litigation than what most lawyers think of as "tax law." (So Mary L. Smith actually wasn't such a bad nomination, senators.) But getting a tax litigator to head up DOJ Tax is even harder than getting a "tax lawyer" to do it.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jun 29, 2011 7:15:03 AM

The answer to the question is that our nation is without leadership.

Posted by: Woody | Jun 29, 2011 7:57:23 AM

Hmmm. How 'bout Michele Bachman? Rumor has it she is (at least nominally) a tax attorney.

Given her recent proposals (rants) on the income tax, she might help wake things up around the DOJ.

And it might get her off the campaign trail for a little while. Worked well with Huntsman, right?

Posted by: CT_Woods | Jun 29, 2011 8:24:33 AM

Doesn't see to have impacted their ability to bring tax cases in the recent offshore account drive.

Posted by: erg | Jun 30, 2011 5:11:23 AM