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Late Ex-IRS Chief Caplin Ushered Agency Into Modern Era

July 17, 2019, Law360

Mortimer Caplin, a former IRS commissioner under President John F. Kennedy and founder of Caplin & Drysdale who recently died at age 103, is remembered by his former colleagues for modernizing and putting a human face on the agency.

Caplin, who graduated from the University of Virginia Law School in 1940 and later taught there for 33 years, died Monday shortly after reaching his 103rd birthday, according to an announcement by the university. Caplin was asked to join Kennedy’s Task Force on Taxation shortly after the 1960 election and was appointed IRS commissioner in 1961.

Beth Shapiro Kaufman, a member at Caplin & Drysdale Chtd. who knew Caplin for 35 years, told Law360 that he focused on changing the agency's image so it would not be perceived as an enemy.

“Prior to his tenure as commissioner, people viewed the IRS more as an agency out to get them,” she said. Caplin "wanted the agency to be responsive to taxpayers, to answer their questions and help people get to the right answer on their self-reporting rather than being antagonistic.”

Read more at Law360.


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