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Congress / HILL PEOPLE

Profile: Mark Prater

Minority Chief Tax Counsel, Deputy Staff Director, Senate Finance Committee

August 30, 2011

An Oregon accountant’s son, Prater knew early that he wanted to practice tax law. The plan was straightforward: degree in accounting (Portland State University), J.D. (Willamette University), and then a job at a Portland law firm. It all went as expected until, 20 years ago, Prater got a call from a friend on the Hill. The friend was moving to the Treasury Department and wanted to know if Prater would be interested in taking his old job. Prater planned to spend only two years in the nation’s capital, but “two became five, five became 10, and before I knew it, 10 became 20.” He worked first for then-Sen. Bob Packwood, R-Ore., but that wouldn’t be his only home-state connection. While working on the Hill, he met a fellow Oregonian working for then-Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., and six years ago, they were married. Prater, 52, has watched the Hill adapt to a more globalized world and to the Internet age, but through all the changes he’s loved the job of shaping tax policy. “Tax lawyers are always taught to look at what was written and how it applies,” he says. “Here, you get to think about what the rules should be.”

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