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Prominent Tax Attorney Robert Russell Joins Kostelanetz & Fink as Counsel in D.C. Office

NEW YORK AND WASHINGTON (July 29, 2019) – Kostelanetz & Fink, LLP is pleased to announce that it is expanding its Washington, D.C. office by bringing on Robert Russell, a prominent domestic and international tax planning and controversy attorney with broad experience in government enforcement and tax policy developed during his tenures with the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Department of Treasury Office of Tax Policy, and Joint Committee on Taxation.  Mr. Russell’s arrival, the latest in a handful of recent additions to the D.C. office, enhances Kostelanetz & Fink’s already impressive tax controversy and tax planning practice.  

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Bryan Skarlatos Quoted in "IRS Sends Warning Letter to 10,000 Crypto Speculators," Mish Talk

Some cryptocurrency holders are now disclosing past tax lapses to avoid potential criminal prosecution.

Bryan Skarlatos, a lawyer with Kostelanetz & Fink with several such cases, reminds cryptocurrency investors of the IRS’s success in piercing the veil of Swiss bank secrecy. Since 2009, more than 56,000 Americans who hid money in offshore accounts have paid more than $11 billion to resolve tax issues.

"Digital currency holders shouldn’t think they can hide from the IRS," he says.

Smaller investors are also feeling heat. Many traded during last year’s price spike, and tax preparers are now asking clients routinely about cryptocurrency sales. They aren’t supposed to sign returns with unreported income.

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Caroline D. Ciraolo moderated a panel titled "Ethical Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them When Representing Clients in IRS Collections and Audits," at the University of San Diego School of Law - RJS LAW Tax Controversy Institute 2019

The Institute is the premier tax controversy event in San Diego. The region's top tax attorneys, CPAs, and law/business school professors discussed topics including passthrough planning, Wayfair, ethical pitfalls to avoid in practice, and employee classification issues in California.

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Michael Sardar Quoted in "Could You Obstruct the Fake College Cheating Scam Audits?", Tax Notes

Michael Sardar of Kostelanetz & Fink LLP said the Varsity Blues prosecutors may have considered using tax charges, but the lack of tax obstruction charges isn’t surprising.

Section 7201 tax evasion charges would be a more obvious choice for charges against the parents, Sardar said. The government would have several alternatives, including defraud conspiracy charges, before it would need to settle for tax obstruction charges, he said.

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On Congressional Subpoenas to Accounting Firms

By: Brian P. Ketcham
The CPA Journal
July 2019 Edition

Recently, a midsize accounting firm that had prepared financial statements and reports for President Donald Trump and various entities associated with him for many years received a subpoena from the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform seeking a broad array of documents and communications regarding the firm’s work in that capacity. The subpoena, which seeks six years of personal and corporate financial records, may lead to troubling precedent and a sharp increase in broad subpoenas to accounting firms in all manner of cases. Indeed, although the subpoena itself is not yet publically available, a letter from Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the chairman of the Oversight Committee, to the chairman and CEO of the accounting firm can be found online, and excerpts from the subpoena are quoted in publically filed court documents. The subpoena, if ultimately enforced, will have a chilling effect on the relationship between taxpayers and their accountants.

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Jay Nanavati has been admitted to the Edward Bennett Williams American Inn of Court

The Inn is an invitation-only professional organization devoted to white-collar practice. Membership in the Edward Bennett Williams American Inn of Court, which has the distinction of being one of only a few Inns of Court focusing on white-collar criminal prosecution and defense, includes D.C. Circuit Court judges, District Court judges and Superior Court judges, U.S. Department of Justice officials and some of the most established defense attorneys in Washington, D.C.


Michael Sardar presented the CPE/CLE course "Working with Schedule C Taxpayers Without Complete Records: Reconstruction, Estimates, and Best Practices" at The American Academy of Attorney-CPAs 2019 Annual Meeting & Education Conference

In the event of a loss of client records or due to poor record keeping, a paid preparer may need to help his client reconstruct the records and/or make estimates. This session covered tips and ideas on how to handle such issues from tax-return preparation through audit and will include a review of the Schedule C Form, common Schedule C pitfalls, and the best practices for how the tax return preparer and client can utilize estimates and reconstructions in these situations.  The session also addressed the Cohan rule and the AICPA Statement on Standards with respect to the use of estimates.​

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Michael Sardar and Caroline Ciraolo participated in a panel titled "IRS Voluntary Disclosures: Past, Present, And Future" at The American Academy of Attorney-CPAs 2019 Annual Meeting & Education Conference

The IRS has offered noncompliant taxpayers a path to come into compliance for decades. First, under the Internal Revenue Manual voluntary disclosure practice, and then under the historic Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Programs. In November 2018, the IRS announced new provisions that will apply to all future domestic and offshore voluntary disclosures. Since then, practitioners have been debating the new voluntary disclosure practice and its impact on clients, and taxpayers are wondering if this is the best approach to resolve outstanding issues. The panelists outlined the new framework and engaged in a spirited discussion regarding various open issues and best practices.

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Caroline D. Ciraolo presented the CPE/CLE course "What’s New in Federal Tax Enforcement?" at The American Academy of Attorney-CPAs 2019 Annual Meeting & Education Conference

Caroline Ciraolo, partner with Kostelanetz & Fink, LLP in Washington, D.C. and former Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Tax Division, U.S. Department of Justice, discussed current priorities of the IRS and the Tax Division, domestic and international audit campaigns, current staffing and budget issues, new investigative units, and recent enforcement statistics.

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Tax Controversies: Audits, Investigations, Trials

By: Robert S. Fink
38th Ed. 2019

The 38th edition of “Tax Controversies: Audits, Investigations, Trials” has published and is available on Lexis-Nexis. Authored by Kostelanetz & Fink co-founder Robert S. Fink and the attorneys of Kostelanetz & Fink, Tax Controversies is the recognized guide to all stages of tax examination, investigation, litigation, and prosecution -- civil or criminal -- including coverage of:

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