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The Laurence Neal Woodworth Memorial Lecture in Federal Tax Law and Policy

Lecture Title: 
“Global Trends and the Tax System”

Douglas H. Shulman

  • Former Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 41 ONU L. Rev. 671 (2015)

In conjunction with the ABA Tax Section May Meeting

“Global Trends and the Tax System”

May 8, 2014 • 5 p.m. (reception to follow)

Constitution A, Level 3B

Grand Hyatt Washington

1000 H Street NW

Washington, D.C. 20001

Douglas Shulman is a senior advisor with McKinsey & Co. and a senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Business and Government. He was commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from 2008 until his term expired in 2012.

As head of the IRS, Shulman led one of the largest financial institutions in the world with approximately 100,000 employees, more than 200 million customers, a $12 billion budget, and more than $2.5 trillion of annual transactions.

Shulman launched and completed a major modernization of IRS’s core technology, allowing the IRS to process tax returns on a daily cycle, rather than weekly batch cycle, resulting in faster refunds and better customer service for all 140 million individual taxpayers. Under Shulman’s direction, the IRS transformed its use of data analytics and pilot programs to drive improvements in its operations. Shulman also focused on employee engagement and performance, and under his leadership the agency improved significantly in the government-wide Best Places to Work in Government survey. During his tenure, the IRS also achieved the highest score in its history on the American Customer Satisfaction Index, its key customer service metric.

During his term, the IRS played a major role in the nation’s economic recovery efforts by delivering about $300 billion — or 40 percent of the money of the Recovery Act — through the tax system. Shulman was intimately involved in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, as most of the financial information and transactions resulting from the law flow through the tax system. In the face of increasing globalization, Shulman stepped up IRS activity on a variety of international tax issues, including a historic breakthrough in offshore tax evasion. He served as the chair of the OECD FTA, the global body of his counterparts, from 2009-12.

Shulman came to the IRS from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA, previously NASD), where he served as vice chairman and, before that, president of Markets, Services & Information. After joining NASD in 2000, Shulman oversaw its stock market operations and led the multi-billion-dollar sale of the NASDAQ Stock Market and the divestiture of the American Stock Exchange, directed NASD’s entry into the fixed income markets through the launch of TRACE (an industry-wide bond market reporting facility and service), played a lead role in acquiring new regulatory services and restructuring the company, modernized technology operations, and led entry into new business segments.

Earlier in his career, Shulman held a number of positions, including working at the consulting firm AT Kearney, helping co-found Teach for America, serving as vice president of Darby Overseas Investments, and starting a technology- and innovation-focused advisory firm. Shulman also served on a number of boards of directors, including the World Federation of Exchanges and the Depository Trust & Clearing Corp (DTCC).

Shulman holds a BA from Williams College, an MPA from Harvard Kennedy School, and a JD from Georgetown University Law Center.


Douglas H. Shulman, former Commissioner of Internal Revenue Service
41 ONU L. Rev. 671 (2015)