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Politics

Ex-Treasury Department Official Tsilas Speaks on Tax Reform Prospects

“If any tax reform gets done in 2015, it will be corporate tax reform,” Vicky Tsilas, a former Treasury Department official how recently left the Office of Tax Policy to return to the private sector, told the Bond Buyer.

“The good news is, if we’re only talking corporate tax reform this year, if that’s truly what happens, then there’s less likely to be radical change in the treatment of tax-exempt bonds,” said Tsilas, whose father, Amb. Loucas Tsilas, just completed his 15-year tenure as Executive Director of the Onassis Foundation USA, as TNH reported last week (“Amb. Tsilas Finishes Onassis Tenure,” Jan. 24).

Tsilas told the Buyer that the debate, even if bond-specific, could nonetheless broaden to include individual tax reforms, but that corporate reforms seemed to be the focal point.

Noting the political difficulty of a tax increase, say, on gasoline, Tsilas acknowledged that infrastructure reform is imminent, though how to pay for it is far from settled. “I think everybody agrees on the problem, but [agreeing] on the solution is a whole other question,” Tsilas told the Buyer.

Tsilas added that she was pleased that  the Treasury department and the Internal Revenue service were able to implement measures to prevent abuse of management contracts under Obamacare to be misused for private business enterprise.

Of particular concern were Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), which are health

care organizations where doctors, hospitals and other providers collaborate in providing care. If there is too much private business use, then what was originally tax-exempt bond financing would become taxable under the law.

“I think the Affordable Care Act has certainly changed the way contracts are entered into,” Tsilas said. “It was good that Treasury and the IRS “at least provided some guidance on the new changes. There is a recognition that things have changed. The industry has changed. And with it, the guidance needs to be updated.”

A holder of two law degrees – a Juris Doctorate from Fordham University and a Master of Laws from Georgetown, Tsilas returns to the large law firm Ballard Spahr as a tax partner, where she will advise on tax matters for bond deals. “It’s sort of like going back home,” she told the Buyer.

Her experience on the federal government side of things will give her enhanced perspective on how regulations are drafted, all of which will render her a more qualified tax law practitioner, she said.

 

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