Amy S. Elliott,
It's a notion with a certain logic: Who would be better to spearhead top-to-bottom tax reform than a former tax attorney?
If enough voters buy that argument, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., a presidential candidate and a former IRS attorney, could stand to benefit. She hopes her plan to turn the economy around and create jobs by scrapping the tax code as we know it will help her secure the GOP nomination in 2012. Bachmann, who often introduces herself as a tax attorney, worked for five years as an IRS attorney in St. Paul, Minn., after receiving an LLM in taxation from the College of William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Va. The school has since discontinued its tax LLM program.
In a 2006 speech at a church in Brooklyn Park, Minn., Bachmann credited her husband and her faith for leading her to tax law:
My husband said, 'Now you need to go and get a post-doctorate degree in tax law.' Tax law? I hate taxes. Why should I go and do something like that? But the Lord said: 'Be submissive to your husband,' and so we moved to Virginia Beach, Va. . . . and I pursued this course of study. Never had a tax course in my background. Never had a desire for it. But I was going to be faithful to what I felt God was calling me to do through my husband. ...
Bachmann worked in tax law from 1988 through 1993 as a tax attorney with the IRS. Although details of that time are hard to obtain, Bachmann has said that she worked on hundreds of civil and criminal tax cases. ... In 1993 Bachmann left her position at the IRS and focused full time on raising her family. She became involved in politics in the late 1990s, running for a position on her local school board, then won a seat in Minnesota's Senate in 2000, and was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006. ...
Bachmann's experiences at the IRS seem to have fueled her interest in lowering taxes and streamlining the code. Her campaign website says her work as an IRS attorney "solidified her strong support for efforts to simplify the Tax Code and reduce tax burdens on family and small business budgets." On her congressional website, Bachmann says that while working at the IRS, she "saw firsthand that our nation's tax laws are hard to understand and undermine the country's prosperity by imposing needlessly harsh penalties on work, savings, and investments."
Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said Bachmann's background as a tax attorney "may give her greater credibility when she says the system should be scrapped and we should start over."
All Tax Analysts content is available through the LexisNexis® services. Prior TaxProf Blog coverage: