Ropes & Gray Advises IRS on Ebola Relief Issues

In The News
November 1, 2014
Rom P. Watson
A. L. (Lorry) Spitzer
Carolyn (Morey) Ward , Stephen E. Shay

Acting for our pro bono client, the International Senior Lawyers Project (, tax lawyers at Ropes & Gray provided information to the Internal Revenue Service on issues related to tax relief for victims of the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. On Oct. 29, the IRS issued two items of tax guidance that provide tax relief to persons contributing to efforts to aid Ebola victims. The IRS announcement concerning the two guidance items is available here.

The Ropes & Gray team worked with the IRS National Office on the issue, supplying background information cited in the guidance in support of the “disaster relief” determination. The treatment of the affected area of West Africa as a “qualified disaster” under Internal Revenue Code § 139(c)(4) is a novel application of the relief to a medical crisis; the IRS has previously exercised this authority outside of the U.S. on just six occasions, and only in cases of natural disasters caused by earthquakes and tsunamis.   

The Ropes & Gray team included tax partners Rom Watson and Lorry Spitzer (both of Boston), and tax counsel Morey Ward (Washington, D.C.). Stephen Shay, a retired Ropes & Gray partner and Harvard Law School professor assisted on the project.