Karen L Hawkins served as the Director, Office of Professional Responsibility at the IRS from April, 2009 until July, 2015. Ms. Hawkins was in private practice as a member of the Law Offices of Taggart & Hawkins, PC for the 30 years before accepting then-Commissioner Shulman’s invitation to assume the Director position. Ms. Hawkins has returned to the law primarily as an educator, expert witness and tax procedure consultant.
Ms. Hawkins is a past Chair of the Taxation Section of the State Bar of California, past chair of the ABA Taxation Subcommittee on Civil Penalties, and the IRS Liaison Meetings Committee. She served as a Director on the Council of the ABA Taxation Section and as the Section's Vice-Chair Professional Services. She stepped down as Chair-elect of the Taxation Section when she stepped into the OPR Director position at the IRS. At its January, 2016 meeting the Taxation Section selected Ms. Hawkins as its next Chair-elect. Ms. Hawkins is also a Fellow of the American College of Tax Counsel.
Ms. Hawkins is the founder of the San Francisco Pro Se/Pro Bono Tax Court project, and she played a key role in the successful efforts to reform the innocent spouse statutes in both federal and California law. Her honors include the V. Judson Klein and Joanne Garvey Awards from the State Bar of California Section of Taxation in 2002 and 2012, respectively; the National Pro Bono Award from the American Bar Association Tax Section, and the Judith McKelvey Distinguished Alumna Award from Golden Gate University, both in 2004; the Jules Ritholz Memorial Merit Award from the ABA Taxation Section Civil & Criminal Tax Penalties Committee in 2008. In 2012, Golden Gate University School of Law named its Tax Law Library Collection in Ms. Hawkins’ name and in May, 2015 the school awarded Ms. Hawkins a Doctor of Laws (honorary) degree.
Ms. Hawkins earned her J.D. and M.B.A. degrees from Golden Gate University in San Francisco. She received an honorary Doctor of Laws from GGU in 2015. Ms. Hawkins also holds an M.Ed from the University of California, Davis. Her B.A. is from the University of Massachusetts. Ms. Hawkins has spoken and written extensively on all aspects of civil and criminal tax controversy issues and on ethics in tax practice.