Bloomberg Tax
March 5, 2023, 3:00 PMUpdated: March 6, 2023, 9:51 PM

Week in Insights: The Rewards of Learning for Its Own Sake (1)

Melanie Cohen
Melanie Cohen

Here at The Exchange, we have a tradition of going on language journeys, and I recently began one of my own. After years immersing myself in Korean TV shows, music, and culture, I started taking introductory language classes.

As someone who’s monolingual (I can put together simple sentences in Spanish, but that’s about it), I’m humbled every time I speak, open my notes, or try to remember vocabulary. Learning a new language is hard—especially when you’re an adult, and especially when the alphabet and grammar are so different from what you know.

So why put effort into a language that could take years to fully reap the rewards of learning, to which I have no cultural ties, and that serves no “greater” purpose than wanting to watch my favorite TV shows without subtitles? Because I feel a glimmer of victory when I recognize a word or phrase in a song or in writing. And I’m tickled every time I can “translate” from Konglish—about 5% of the language comes from loanwords, many of them English.

I’m heading to Korea for two weeks with friends this spring, and I can’t wait to live out my K-drama dreams—running along the Han River, scouring the beautiful beaches in Jeju Island, hiking in scenic forests, and, at the top of my agenda, a tour of the Demilitarized Zone.

While the little 한국어 I’ve learned may help me during my vacation, I wouldn’t call it a culmination of my efforts; it’s just a pit stop on what I hope is a lifelong endeavor. Learning for its own sake can be incredibly rewarding—and as my mom recently reminded me, it creates neural pathways in the brain.

At Bloomberg Tax, we hope you’re always learning something new from our commentary and insightful analysis on state, federal, and international tax issues. And as my Korean teacher likes to say, no matter where you are in your learning voyage, “You got this!

The Exchange—It’s where great ideas intersect.

—Melanie Cohen

A woman walks past a commercial poster showing K-pop group BTS members at a subway station in Seoul on Sept. 1, 2020.
Photographer: Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

Quick Trivia

The Korean alphabet, called Hangul (한글), was created in the 15th century. How many letters does it have?
Answer at the bottom.

Special Feature From Grace Perez-Navarro

Addressing the challenges created by digital transformation is critical to ensuring that tax systems are fair, foster resilient and sustainable economies, and generate revenue that governments need for public services and development, says Grace Perez-Navarro of the OECD.

Corporate Insights

Excess benefit plans and restricted stock can yield tremendous tax savings for both employers and employees. If handled correctly, implementing the appropriate employee benefits can boost both executive morale and value for shareholders, says PYA’s Mark Brumbelow.

A new crop of talented accountants are demanding independence, flexibility, and the ability to work on their own terms. By championing software-as-a-service products, the profession can give digital natives the freedom to be creative by taking entry-level work off their plates, says Anees Pretorius of Bean.

By being selective and intentional in our choices, we can focus on true innovation and growth. This helps cut out unnecessary distractions and make space for what’s important and meaningful, says FTI Consulting Inc.'s Jared Dunkin.

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to business operations, but you can be successful without having to constantly chase expansion by pursuing long-term sustainability instead of growth, says Little Fish Accounting’s Keila Hill-Trawick.

Federal Insights

ChatGPT is among the latest AI technology, but is it qualified to give tax advice? Though it’s usually on the right track, it misses nuances of the tax code 100% of the time, says Lee Reams II of TaxBuzz.

Using big-data and cloud computing to weed out food benefits fraud would drastically improve the effectiveness of government auditors by doing the types of analytics that free up humans to think creatively and follow leads, says G2Lytics LLC’s Steven Purcell.

The law governing the Earned Income Tax Credit has a list of requirements for tax preparers. Those who file returns seeking refunds but who don’t meet all the requirements could face financial penalties or worse, says Green & Sklarz’s Eric Green.

Global Insights

Colombia’s new tax reform law is one of its most ambitious tax proposals and includes significant changes that affect national and foreign companies, says Baker McKenzie’s Juan Diego Fernandez.

Christos Theophilou of Taxand takes a look at specific examples of intra-group services that aren’t chargeable, as provided in the OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines.

Bert Steens, Sébastien Gonnet, Philippe Paumier, and Andréa Massamba Leho of Transfer Pricing Economists for Development summarize their comments in response to the OECD’s public consultation on Amount B, particularly with regard to emerging and developing markets.

A view on May 19, 2018, of the Lotte tower (front C) and Namsan tower (rear C) amid the Seoul city skyline and Han River during sunset.
Photographer: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

A Closer Look

In what may be a silver lining for most trial lawyers, the IRS’ Generic Legal Advice Memorandum has provided a playbook of what to avoid and why when deferring tax on contingent fees, says Structured Consulting’s Jeremy Babener in our latest installment of “A Closer Look.”


Turning a traditional IRA into an empire-building Roth requires access to stock options that aren’t available to the general public. The solution is trivial in theory but is political poison, says Andrew Leahey: stricter income caps, limits on appreciation, and a tailor-made tax on Roth IRA withdrawals beyond a certain threshold.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2023 budget includes a proposal to “reduce tax avoidance by wealthy Californians.” But will Californians choose simply to sit and watch as the financial elite push their tax obligations onto everyone else? Voters must press legislators to enact laws that enable all Californians to roam within a safer financial habitat, writes Don Griswold.

Career Moves

Baker Botts has promoted two tax attorneys—Ben Geslison and Derek Young—to special counsel in Houston and New York.

Corey Steady has been promoted to partner in the tax practice group of Sheppard Mullin in the Orange County, Calif., office.

Jeffrey Davis has joined White & Case as a partner in the tax practice in Washington, D.C.

Jamie Crawford joins Dorsey & Whitney as a partner with the specialist tax practice in London.

Michael Milazzo has joined Latham & Watkins LLP as a partner in the transactional tax practice in New York.

Joanna Feltz has joined Bose McKinney & Evans as a partner in the estate and wealth transfer planning group.

Megan Hall has joined Eversheds Sutherland as a partner in the tax practice group in Washington, D.C.

If you are changing jobs or being promoted, let us know. You can email your submission to for consideration.


This week’s Spotlight is on Jacob Schumer, an Orlando attorney who advises Florida’s local governments on taxes, special assessments, and user fees, among other issues. Schumer may be best known for his articles in Bloomberg Tax about Disney’s special tax district, which is now controlled by appointees of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

News Roundup

It’s been another busy week in tax news from state capitals to Washington. Here are some stories you might have missed from our Bloomberg Tax news team. *Note: Your Bloomberg Tax login will be required to access Tax News.

  • Following a Supreme Court ruling that the IRS has been over-penalizing people for non-willfully failing to report their foreign accounts, practitioners are hoping courts will further curb the IRS penalties in both willful and non-willful cases.
  • Final IRS rules on electronic filing requirements include a later applicability date that should be helpful to small businesses, tax and payroll industry professionals said.
  • Countries’ domestic implementation of new global minimum tax rules will be evaluated starting this year.
  • A problem remains for entities seeking to maintain a valid S corporation election without requesting a private letter ruling.
  • The Senate Finance Committee advanced Danny Werfel’s nomination to be IRS commissioner, putting Werfel one step closer to leading the agency.
  • Lawmakers are hoping that housing-related tax policies will spur bipartisan action this Congress, bringing back bills that they say didn’t get a fair shake last time around.

Our Wish List

What’s on our Bloomberg Tax Insights wish list right now? For March, we want to know how you’re getting through the busy tax season. It can be anything from ways to relieve stress to advice on managing corporate clients. What changes in the tax code are affecting partnerships and S corps, making their March 15 filing deadline a challenge? And what can tax professionals do today to set themselves up for an easier busy season in 2024?

Our Insights articles—about 1,000 words—are written by tax professionals offering expert analysis on current tax practice and policy issues, tax trends and topics, and tax and accounting firm practice and management. If you have an interesting, never-published article for publication, we’d love to hear about it. You can contact our Insights team at

People descend stairs at Seongsan Ilchulbong in Seogwipo, Jeju, South Korea, on June 28, 2015.
Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Our Team

We talk about tax a lot. But there’s much more that you might hear us talking about if you popped into one of our Teams meetings. Here’s a quick look at what some of us are watching, reading, and listening to this week:


  • Rebecca Baker (Editor-at-Large, Insights and Commentary, Bloomberg Tax): French language videos on YouTube, to help refresh my memory for my upcoming trip to Paris. 😊
  • Katharine Butler (Acquisitions Manager, Insights and Commentary, Bloomberg Tax): I’ve been watching old black and white films for comfort—most recently “My Man Godfrey.” I’d never seen it before, but what a great film, and so funny!
  • Samantha Handler (Reporter, Bloomberg Tax): I just finished “Severance,” a science fiction thriller about office workers. Eagerly waiting for Season 2 now!


  • Melanie Cohen (Senior Content Editor, Insights and Commentary, Bloomberg Tax): “Good Talk,” an autobiographical graphic novel by Mira Jacob about identity and interracial families.
  • David Jolly (Senior Content Editor, Bloomberg Tax): For my book group, I’m rereading Vaclav Smil’s epic “Energy and Civilization: A History.” It’s densely packed with fascinating information, and one read wouldn’t do it justice.
  • Maria Menezes (Practice Lead, International Tax, Bloomberg Tax): “The Garden,” Royal Horticulture Society’s monthly magazine—preparing for spring and adapting to climate change with a choice of plants to deal with uncertain and dry weather.


  • Andrew Leahey (Columnist, Insights and Commentary, Bloomberg Tax): The Boss is on tour again, so I’m deep in the rabbit hole that is his 50-plus year catalog.
A woman visits the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Seoul, on Sept. 16, 2021.
Photographer: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

Quick Trivia Answer

Hangul has 24 letters—14 consonants and 10 vowels—though it originally had 28.


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(Clarifies that Hangul was created in the 15th century in Quick Trivia in the seventh paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Melanie Cohen at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebecca Baker at; Kathy Larsen at

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