Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons Speak at Delaware Tax Institute
Web Editor - Published: November 21, 2011
On Friday, November 18th, Widener Law’s Delaware campus hosted the 2011 Delaware Tax Institute, “Windows of Opportunity: Tax Planning in Times of Transition”.

U.S. Senators from Delaware Chris A. Coons and Thomas R. Carper served as the distinguished speakers for the event in place of the scheduled speaker – Maya MacGuineas, the president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and director of the fiscal policy program at the New America Foundation  – who was unable to attend for medical reasons.

“I think the most important issue we’re working on in Washington is trying to put ourselves on a path toward fiscal responsibility,” said Senator Carper, who spoke first.

In addition to sharing his thoughts on the need for more willingness to work across the aisle to find solutions to the country’s deficit problems, Carper shared his own personal philosophy and the lessons his parents taught him. After his remarks, he took a couple of questions from the audience.

The first question addressed whether he believed that the congressional “super committee” had any intention of doing away with the 5 million dollar estate tax exemption. Carper indicated that the answer to that question was a definitive no. The second question dealt with Carper’s perception of what has driven the partisan divide in Washington. The Senator cited the extreme polarization in the House of Representatives and the lack of centrists.

Following Carper’s remarks, Senator Coons, fresh from presiding over the Senate, took the floor and quickly praised his colleague, saying, “We need more bridge builders. One of the things that distinguishes Senator Carper is his persistent enthusiasm for reaching out on a personal level.”

Expressing frustration at his perception that certain small groups are using the system to promote gridlock because they view the failure to do anything as success, Coons said, “I was – to be blunt – embarrassed as a member of the Budget Committee that we never got a budget out,” before joking, “I’ll tell you that in a recent survey tax lawyers have three times the approval rating that members of Congress do.”

The program opened at 8:30 a.m. with remarks by Associate Professor Nicholas A. Mirkay, who was responsible for organizing the event. The morning portion of the program featured panel discussions on 2011 Income Tax Developments and Recent Developments in Estate Planning.

Following lunch, attendees had the choice of attending one of two breakout sessions; Making Two Years Last A Lifetime – Tax Planning Under the 2010 Tax Act or Business Tax Planning. The keynote remarks by Senators Carper and Coons followed those breakout sessions, and the program then closed with another pair of breakout sessions; Captive Insurance Companies for the Small to Middle Business Markets: From Concept to Claims and Fiduciary Duties of Officers – The Changing Landscape.

The Society of Financial Service Professionals, Delaware Chapter and Newton One Advisors, LLC co-sponsored the 2011 Delaware Tax Institute.