CHICAGO — Rebecca Harrigal laid out what she described as something of a “hit list of first items to look at” when she becomes the director of the IRS’ tax-exempt bond office early next month.
Harrigal’s remarks, at the National Association of Bond Lawyers’ Bond Attorneys’ Workshop in Chicago, were the first to market participants about her plans for the office. She also described her background and what people can expect from her.
One of Harrigal’s top agenda items is risk management. Another is to figure out how to deal with the ongoing challenge of dwindling resources.
“I don’t think we’ve seen the end of resource issues, and I think this might get worse” she said.
Harrigal also said that she wants to see if the TEB office is using best practices. And she wants to see if the office is maximizing its resources, especially the use of field counsel and counsel for financial institutions and products. She is currently deputy associate chief counsel for the IRS’ financial institution and products division.
Additionally, Harrigal wants to make sure that work on bond projects is coordinated with IRS groups for other financial products. She noted that this coordination took place with the recently proposed issue price rules.
Harrigal said she thinks the TEB office’s manager of compliance and program management, Steve Chamberlin, and the manager of the field operations, Allyson Belsome, have been doing good job during a challenging time.
“I am not coming in here with the idea that there are any major changes. I think the structure of TEB makes a lot of sense,” she said.
But she noted one main difference between herself and her predecessors: her gender. Harrigal will be the first female director of the TEB office. She said that it is apt to describe her as “demanding and fair.”
Harrigal replaces Cliff Gannett, who retired from the IRS in June. Chamberlain has been serving as acting TEB director.
Harrigal said that she has been involved with tax-exempt bonds in one way or another for about 20 years.
She first got involved with tax-exempt bonds as an attorney in the IRS’ field service division. During this time period, she also helped create the focused examination program for TEB and litigated bond cases.
She then served as chief of the TEB branch in the counsel’s office from 1997 to 2008. In her current job, she looks as bond guidance projects as well as other financial products.
“I think I’m pretty familiar with the technical aspect and I’m pretty familiar with the unique problems that come with tax-exempt bonds,” she said.