Ethics for Tax Lawyers: Answers to Your Most Difficult Questions

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Course Information

Time 60 Minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

Course Description

The tax law is complicated and the right answer is not always clear. 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 course, presented by Bryan Skarlatos of Kostelanetz & Fink LLP, is not a dry recitation of Circular 230 and the ethical rules. We will discuss the history and evolution of ethical standards for tax practitioners and we will use real life hypothetical examples to show how those standards apply in every day practice.  A course like this is essential for tax professionals who want to represent their clients effectively while staying on the right side of the line and avoiding penalties.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Find out how certain you have to be before you can advise a client to take a tax position on a return
  2. Recognize when you can rely on your client for information and when you have to dig deeper
  3. Explore the difference between professional ethical standards of conduct, Circular 230 standards, and tax penalties
  4. Study why penalties are assessed, which penalties apply to what types of conduct, and who can be subject to penalties, the taxpayer, the preparer, or both
  5. Examine situations where conduct is so egregious that it can trigger a fraud penalty
  6. Discover what turns a civil penalty case into a criminal tax prosecution

Credit Information

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Bryan Skarlatos

Kostelanetz & Fink

For more than thirty years, Bryan C. Skarlatos has represented individuals and corporations in civil and criminal tax controversies, white collar criminal and regulatory investigations, tax whistleblower matters and voluntary disclosures. He is often hired as an expert on tax standards, penalties and procedures.  

Mr. Skarlatos is an adjunct professor at New York University School of Law, where he teaches a course on Tax Penalties and Prosecutions and he is a Fellow in the American College of Tax Counsel.  He has also served as the chair of tax committees for many bar associations including the American Bar Association, New York State Bar Association and New York City Bar Association. 

Mr. Skarlatos has been recognized by New York Super Lawyers as one of the Top 100 lawyers in New York and he is listed in Best Lawyers in America where he was named Tax Litigator of the Year in New York for 2014 and 2017.  He also is ranked in Band One of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, which describes him as having a, “smart reassuring presence with insight into the government…extremely knowledgeable and very well connected to the various taxing authorities…Clients applaud him as being exceptionally brilliant at coming up with great outcomes.”

 Mr. Skarlatos speaks throughout the country on tax-related topics and he frequently is quoted in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes, Bloomberg, Reuters, Financial Times, Tax Analysts-Tax Notes, and Bloomberg BNA Daily Tax Report.