Message from the Institute Chair



For THIRTY-TWO YEARS the Annual Tax Controversy Institute has been among the preeminent tax conferences in the United States exclusively dedicated to tax controversy and tax litigation! This year, I was honored and privileged to serve as Chair of The Annual Tax Controversy Institute!


Institute Chair Emeritus. The Institute was founded by Eugene “Gene” Silverman, deceased, formerly of the firm now known as De Castro, West, Chodorow, Mendler, Glickfeld & Nass, Inc. Gene set the foundation for extremely high-quality, practical presentations by sophisticated government and private practitioners from throughout the United States who enjoy an open discussion of sometimes sensitive practice issues with the audience. For years, we were blessed to attend presentations about accountability and life in the tax trenches from the “titans of tax controversy” – including Bruce I. Hochman, Elliott H. Kajan and Gene Silverman, each an Institute Chair Emeritus of the Annual Tax Controversy Institute.

The Institute enjoys national recognition in the field of tax controversy, representing a true partnership among members of the tax judiciary, government, and private tax practitioners. We have avoided many potentially awkward situations by providing an informal forum for the discussion and exchange of concerns and information among government and private tax practitioners. Our responsibilities to tax administration and to the profession dictate an ongoing, strong commitment to this annual Institute. This year we again had a wealth of suggestions for potential topics and speakers—remember the Institute during the coming year and please let us know if you’re interested in participating in the future!


VETS COUNT! VETS COUNT is a scholarship fund for active and former military personnel who desire to pursue a career in tax, accounting, wealth management, and other aspects of financial services. Funds raised will also cover basic coursework for personal growth in budgeting, financial literacy, and investing. For nearly 100 years, UCLA Extension has been helping adult learners to take their education wherever their imagination leads them, whether it’s following a dream to change careers, learn a new skill, or position oneself for a promotion. More than 50,000 individuals join in this journey each year, some 2,000 earning a coveted Professional Certificate and the rest dabbling, deep-diving, or designing a curriculum pathway that suits their needs, curiosity, and life circumstances. The VETS COUNT Scholarship fund is being launched at the 2016 Tax Controversy Institute, and will hopefully inspire a wide audience of patriots and professionals to assist in giving back to those who have given so much.

For more information and to donate online please visit:


Thank You to the Staff at UCLA Extension ! We are most appreciative of the year-long efforts by the dedicated staff at UCLA Extension! We are also honored to have a supportive private practitioner Planning Committee together with our government Advisory Board. The Advisory Board includes many dedicated government representatives from throughout the country.


2016 Annual Bruce I. Hochman Award to Frank Agostino! At the luncheon, we are extremely honored to present the 2016 Annual Bruce I. Hochman Award to Frank Agostino, President of Agostino & Associates, P.C., a tax law firm in Hackensack, New Jersey specializing in civil and white collar criminal litigation, tax controversies and tax planning. Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Agostino was an attorney with the District Counsel of the IRS in Springfield, Illinois and in Newark, New Jersey. He also served as a Special Assistant United States Attorney, where he prosecuted primarily criminal tax cases. As an adjunct professor, Mr. Agostino has taught tax controversy at Rutgers School of Law and served as the co-director of the Rutgers Federal Tax Law Clinic.

Mr. Agostino has long served as a role model for both government and private tax practitioners aggressively representing taxpayers (and those who ought to be taxpayers) in both a pro bono and professional capacity, having a deep understanding and appreciation for life in the tax trenches. In 2012, Frank Agostino received Janet Spragens Pro Bono Award from American Bar Association Section of Taxation. The Janet Spragens Pro Bono Award is presented to an individual lawyer or law firm that has demonstrated outstanding and sustained commitment to pro bono legal services, particularly with respect to federal and state tax law. “Frank Agostino sets the standard for pro bono work in the tax area,” said William M. Paul, then Chair of the ABA Tax Section. “He saw a need to assist unrepresented taxpayers and he has dedicated a huge amount of time and energy to pro bono and community-centered activities,” Paul continued. “His work in New York and New Jersey is a model for others to replicate, and is a testament to his commitment and dedication to helping taxpayers in need.” The 2016 Annual Bruce I. Hochman Award is presented in recognition of the many outstanding achievements and contributions of Frank Agostino as a leader, friend and colleague in the tax practitioner community which will always be remembered and appreciated.

Previous recipients of the Annual Bruce I. Hochman Award include 2015 – Karen L. Hawking; 2014 – Steve Sims, Taxpayer Rights Advocate of the California Franchise Tax Board; 2013 – Elliott H. Kajan of, Kajan Mather Barish; 2012 – Ted B. Meyer, Former IRS Examination Territory Manager Los Angeles, SB/SE; 2011 – Jerry Feffer, Williams & Connolly, Washington, D.C.; 2010 – William Taggart, Law Offices of William E. Taggart Jr., APC, Oakland, CA; 2009 – Martin A. Schainbaum, Law Offices of Martin A. Schainbaum, San Francisco, CA; 2008 – Sidney Machtenger, Greenberg Glusker, Los Angeles, CA; 2007 – Mary Ann Cohen, Judge, United States Tax Court, Washington, D.C.; 2006 – Cono Namorato, Caplin & Drysdale Chartered, Washington, D.C.;  2005 – Stephen J. Swift, Judge, United States Tax Court, Washington, D.C.; 2004 – Irene Scott Carroll, Special Litigation Assistant, IRS Counsel, SB/SE; 2003 – B. John Williams, Skadden, Washington, D.C.; 2002 –Gene Silverman, formerly with DeCastro, West, Chodorow, Mendler, Glickfeld & Nass, founder of the UCLA Extension Annual Tax Controversy Institute in 1984.


Advisory Board. We are especially thankful for the participation of the Co-Chairs of our Advisory Board – former IRS Territory Manager Ted Meyer and IRS Exam Territory Manager (Southwest Area, SB/SE) Mark Tracht who have each been instrumental in coordinating the Advisory Board and inviting many government speakers. Former IRS District Director Steve Jensen has long served as a Co-Chair of the Advisory Board before recently relocating to Denver, Colorado. On behalf of the Advisory Board, Ted Meyer and Mark Tracht will present the annual “Chillin’ and Grillin’” Award to an appropriate government representative.


Thank You to our Sponsors and Planning Committee! The Annual Tax Controversy Institute could not function without the strong financial commitments of our sponsors. This year we were most appreciative to include as invaluable sponsors Bessolo Haworth, CPAs LLP; Brager Tax Law Group; CCH Incorporated; GL Howard & Company CPAs, LLP; Gaynor & Umanoff, CPAs LLP; Holthouse Carlin & Van Tright LLP; Holtz Slavett & Drabkin, APLC; Steven L. Jager, CPA Corporation; Kirsch Kohn & Bridge, CPAs LLP; Laffer & Gottlieb CPAs; Mather Kuwada LLP; University of San Francisco; RSJ Law; and the Law Offices of A. Lavar Taylor, APC. Each and every sponsor is critical to the ongoing success of the Institute!

CCH has continued their strong, ongoing involvement by publicizing the Institute throughout the country and again publishing papers from our panelists in this special issue of the CCH Journal of Tax Practice and Procedure dedicated to the 2016 Annual Tax Controversy Institute. A very special thanks to our good friend Claudia Hill for continuing to coordinate this effort with CCH!

Each year, the Planning Committee presents a gift to the parent of a daughter or son currently serving active military duty. While enjoying the fine surroundings of the Beverly Hills Hotel, we are reminded of the personal sacrifices faced by those serving active duty and their families. Those serving are all volunteers, going where they are told to go and doing what they are told to do, to the best of their abilities. All would all rather be home with their families. In a non-political sense, we would not enjoy the lives we do without them. We are not curing cancer and neither are they, but they are closer to it than us. Wherever, whenever you see them, let them know you care and are proud of them – your comments and nods of appreciation as you pass by will be well received by all.


2016 UCLA Extension Annual Tax Controversy Institute. We all share a concern for the accountability of both government and private practitioners to our system of tax administration and to the profession—lessons not to be forgotten by any of us in these most difficult economic times. Working together, we can continue to improve tax compliance within the taxpayer community, eliminate problems before they arise and enhance the reputation of the profession for credibility, integrity, and responsibility to others!


In closing, I wish to extend my personal appreciation to each of you for the honor and privilege to serve as Chair of the 2016 UCLA Extension Annual Tax Controversy Institute! Learn to respect those who can do nothing for you or to you and help those who are less fortunate and unable to help themselves. Reputations are earned every day…by making each day count, you can make a difference!


Charles P. Rettig, Institute Chair
Hochman, Salkin, Rettig, Toscher & Perez, P.C.
Beverly Hills, CA

Print Friendly