Congressional Tax Counsel Joins Venable LLP

Venable LLP announced that Patricia McDermott, a senior tax legislative and policy attorney who has served as legislation counsel to the U.S. Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation since 2001, is joining the firm as a partner in its Washington office.

McDermott, 53, will counsel clients on employee benefits matters, including retirement savings and pension plans, executive compensation, and payroll taxes. She will also provide regulatory guidance and representation of clients before the U.S. Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service.

McDermott is especially familiar with the IRS, having spent 17 years there, rising from a staff attorney in 1984 to become a branch chief, and helping the Service develop positions on a wide range of benefits issues.

As legislation counsel to the Joint Committee on Taxation, McDermott worked closely with the House Ways and Means and Education and the Workforce Committees and the Senate Finance and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committees, as well as with the Treasury’s Office of Benefits Tax Counsel and virtually every key congressional group involved in federal pension policy. She was instrumental in developing and drafting crucial pension provisions of the bipartisan Pension Protection Act of 2006, widely considered the most sweeping reform of America’s pension laws in more than 30 years.

“I thought about leaving public service a bit earlier,” McDermott explained, “but the pension protection bill represented the culmination of so many issues that have been important to me since my first day on Capitol Hill—including pension plan funding, cash balance plans, post-Enron reforms, and automatic enrollment. I wanted to stay and see this important piece of legislation through to its conclusion.”

She added: “Much of the bill isn’t effective until next year, so I expect one early focus for me at Venable will be to help the firm’s clients decide what actions are needed, based partly on interpreting and applying related guidance issued by Treasury, IRS, the Department of Labor, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.”

During her six-year tenure with the Joint Committee on Taxation, McDermott also helped author key provisions of the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act (2005); the Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act (2005); the American Jobs Creation Act (2004); the Pension Funding Equity Act (2004); the Job Creation and Worker Assistance Act (2002); the Victims of Terrorism Tax Relief Act (2001); and the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act (2001). Other major projects included preparation of Joint Committee reports on improving tax compliance and reforming tax expenditures, simplifying the tax system, and also the committee’s investigation of Enron for a litany of tax-related problems.

Andrea O’Brien, chair of Venable’s Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation group, said of McDermott’s arrival: “Tricia brings an impressive combination of legislative and tax experience—not least her 17 years at the IRS, where she counseled both the Examination and Appeals offices, as well as the Employee Plans Division and District Counsel Offices. Tricia’s knowledge and background will enhance our ability to help clients navigate the increasingly complex landscape affecting employee benefit plans and executive compensation.”

“At the same time, Tricia’s experience on the Hill has put her in front of the most important congressional leaders and committees affecting private sector employers and groups,” O’Brien added.

Ms. McDermott joins several other Venable partners—Sam Olchyk and E. Ray Beeman—who also served as legislation counsel to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

“Knowing both Sam and Ray, and how well they have thrived at Venable, was a major factor in my decision to join the firm,” McDermott said. “I was also drawn to the breadth of Venable’s legislative, regulatory and employee benefits practices, in addition to the firm’s growing national reputation.”

McDermott has been a regular speaker on topics such as recent and pending legislation and administrative guidance, tax-favored retirement plans, employment taxes, employee leasing, executive compensation, and fringe benefits. Since 2001, she has been a member of the Tax Coalition, serving as its public-sector co-chair. In 2004, she became a member of the Federal Bar Association Section of Taxation steering committee in 2005.

She received an LL.M. in taxation, with distinction, from the Georgetown University Law Center (1989), and her J.D., cum laude, from Temple University School of Law (1982). She received her B.A., magna cum laude, from LaSalle College (1975).

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