TaxProf Blog

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

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

IRS Chief Counsel Nominee Advised Trump On Taxes

DesmondBloomberg, IRS Counsel Nominee Briefly Advised Trump Organization on Taxes:

President Donald Trump’s nominee for chief counsel of the Internal Revenue Service briefly advised the future president’s real estate company on a tax question several years ago.

Michael Desmond counseled the Trump Organization on “a discrete reporting matter for a subsidiary company that was resolved with no tax impact,” James Wilkinson, a spokesman for Desmond, said in a written statement to Bloomberg News. Wilkinson said Desmond didn’t interact with anyone at the Trump Organization, which was a longtime client of two other partners at his law firm.

Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee have given no sign they plan to scrutinize Desmond’s Trump work at his confirmation hearing Thursday. Still, potential conflicts of interest have drawn attention under Trump, who broke with presidential tradition by refusing to release his tax returns and has mused publicly about using government agencies to punish enemies.

Wilkinson said Desmond disclosed the work during a meeting with Senate staff members of both parties. ...

The chief counsel is considered the IRS’s most important job after commissioner, overseeing an army of lawyers who interpret the country’s tax code. It would be unusual for a chief counsel to be involved in an individual tax matter, Wilkinson said. If something involving Trump came up, Desmond would seek advice from ethics officials, said Wilkinson.

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