Tax Notes recently named Kogod Professor Donald Williamson its 2013 Person of the Year. The publication, a leader among tax professionals, recognized Williamson for his impact on tax policy, practice, and administration in 2013 and throughout his distinguished career.
Williamson spent much of 2013 leading the charge to finalize new IRS repair regulations, which have been in the works since 2003. These regulations govern when taxpayers must capitalize and when they can deduct expenses for acquiring, maintaining, repairing, and replacing tangible property.
“I am honored to receive this recognition and applaud Tax Analysts and Tax Notes for its support of the Kogod Tax Center,” Williamson said. “They have made the tax profession and policy makers aware of the issues affecting small business and the middle class.”
As part of his campaign for regulation change, Williamson testified at an IRS hearing on the proposed repair regulations and discussed the issues that affect small and midsize businesses. He argued that taxpayers will comply with rules, like the repair regulations, so long as they believe it is in their interest, but when rules are incomprehensible, unworkable, or impractical to the average citizen, the rules will be ignored. He further stated that through targeted legislation or administrative exemption, relief from burdensome regulations for small business will improve compliance at minimal cost to technical accuracy.
Well-published, Williamson wrote about taxpayers’s concerns with the repair regulations regularly throughout 2013 and plans to publish a follow-up early this year.
In addition to his continued work in the public tax field, Williamson has been the director of Kogod’s top-ranked MS in Taxation (MST) program for the past 25 years. Kogod’s MST is the only program of its kind in the region and provides students the unique opportunity to experience the tax reform process as it happens on Capitol Hill.
A favorite among his students, Williamson was honored with American University’s Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2012.
"If you want to learn something, teach it," he said. "When students challenge me on things, or inform me that it’s not the way they do it in their office—that's my favorite part."
In 2011, Williamson helped launch the Kogod Tax Center at American University, an organization that promotes independent research on tax policy, planning, and compliance affecting small and mid-sized businesses, entrepreneurs, and middle-income taxpayers. Through in-depth analysis and discussion with policymakers, scholars, tax practitioners, economists, business owners, and taxpayers, the Kogod Tax Center strives to identify key tax issues, develop and propose effective solutions, raise the visibility of key tax issues, and provide educational opportunities for tax professionals. Williamson currently serves as the executive director of the center.