Bryan C. Skarlatos moderated a panel titled "How Far Can You Go? Ethical And Penalty Issues In Everyday Tax Practice" at the 76th Institute on Federal Taxation in San Francisco

The 76th Institute on Federal Taxation addressed all major areas of taxation and is designed for the practitioner who must frequently anticipate and handle federal tax matters. Nationally recognized experts guided attendees through in-depth general sessions and panel discussions that covered the most advanced tax issues. 


The number of accuracy-related penalties assessed against individual taxpayers increased from 58,366 in 2005 to 553,184 in 2015. That is nearly a 1,000% increase over the past decade! Are there more bad taxpayers? Or, is the IRS just getting more aggressive about asserting penalties? Regardless of the answer, responsible tax practitioners must understand what triggers a penalty assessment and how to protect their clients and themselves against such assessments. How sure do you have to be before you can tell a client it is okay to take a deduction, exclude income, or characterize income as capital gain? Can you accept what a taxpayer tells you, or do you have to audit a taxpayer’s records? When can the taxpayer be subject to penalties? And, when can you as the advisor be subject to penalties?

This panel of expert practitioners addressed these and other thorny ethical and penalty issues that arise in everyday tax practice through the use of hypothetical examples.

Chair: Bryan C. Skarlatos, Esq., Partner, Kostelanetz & Fink, New York

NY NY & SF: Karen L. Hawkins, Attorney-at-Law, Hawkins Law, Yachats

OR NY: Christopher S. Rizek, Esq., Member, Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered, Washington

DC SF: Michael J. Desmond, Esq., The Law Offices of Michael J. Desmond, Santa Barbara, CA

            Eric J. Kodesch, Esq., Partner, Stoel Rives, Portland, OR