Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Tanina Rostain (Georgetown) delivered the J. Donald Mawhinney Lectureship in Professional Ethics at the University of British Columbia Allard School of Law on Lessons from the Tax Shelter Wars: Tax Advice, Organizational Wrongdoing, and Enforcement Challenges:
The turn of the 21st Century saw the development of an enormous tax shelter industry in the United States. Aided by prestigious law firms, tax professionals at major accounting firms — including KPMG, Ernst & Young, and PricewaterhouseCoopers — created a widespread market in abusive shelters, which allowed corporate and individual taxpayers to eliminate billions of dollars in taxes owed. As tax shelter activity proliferated, government authorities were faced with increasingly complex regulatory challenges and were ultimately forced to resort to criminal prosecutions to stem the tide of tax shelter activity.
Professor Rostain’s lecture focuses on the lessons to be drawn from the participation of major professional law firms in the rise of the tax shelter market, which represented the most serious episode of professional misconduct in the history of the American bar.