Class Notes Profile: Tax Consultant
As president of the nonprofit, nonpartisan research and advocacy group Taxpayers Federation of Illinois since 2012, Carol Portman,’84 ACES, has grown accustomed to testifying before legislative committees of the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives, something she does about a dozen times in a typical year. But on those less frequent occasions when Portman has to testify before the full chamber, she confesses that she still gets a little starry-eyed.
“When I’m on the floor of the House or Senate, I sometimes think, ‘This is pretty cool for a small-town farm girl,’” Portman says.
That small town of Sullivan, Ill.—home to the only stoplight in Moultrie County when Portman was growing up—is located not too many first-downs from Memorial Stadium where Portman served as co-captain of the Illinettes dance team during her senior year. A fourth-generation Illini—her grandfather, Charles Shuman, ’28 ACES, MA ’29 ACES, was the longtime head of the American Farm Bureau Federation—Portman says she didn’t encounter many stoplights along her career path in the traditionally male-dominated field of tax law on her way to becoming a self-described “tax nerd.”
That humble designation belies the significance of the work that Portman and her three-person staff at TFI do in shaping tax policies that impact millions of people. Of the hundreds of bills signed into law each year, many result in tax code changes, Portman says. “We keep track of every bill that gets introduced. We talk to policy makers in the legislature and Illinois Dept. of Revenue and explain the real-world consequences of things under consideration.”