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Confidence Games: Lawyers, Accountants, and the Tax Shelter Industry

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The rise and fall of a tax shelter industry that enabled some of America's richest citizens to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. For ten boom-powered years at the turn of the twenty-first century, some of America's most prominent law and accounting firms created and marketed products that enabled the very rich--including newly minted dot-com millionaires--to avoid pay The rise and fall of a tax shelter industry that enabled some of America's richest citizens to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. For ten boom-powered years at the turn of the twenty-first century, some of America's most prominent law and accounting firms created and marketed products that enabled the very rich--including newly minted dot-com millionaires--to avoid paying their fair share of taxes by claiming benefits not recognized by law. These abusive domestic tax shelters bore such exotic names as BOSS, BLIPS, and COBRA and were developed by such prestigious firms as KPMG and Ernst & Young. They brought in hundreds of millions of dollars in fees from clients and bilked the U.S. Treasury of billions in revenues before the IRS and Justice Department stepped in with civil penalties and criminal prosecutions. In Confidence Games, Tanina Rostain and Milton Regan describe the rise and fall of the tax shelter industry during this period, offering a riveting account of the most serious episode of professional misconduct in the history of the American bar. Rostain and Regan describe a beleaguered IRS preoccupied by attacks from antitax and antigovernment politicians; heightened competition for professional services; the relaxation of tax practitioner norms against aggressive advice; and the creation of complex financial instruments that made abusive shelters harder to detect. By 2004, the tax shelter boom was over, leaving failed firms, disgraced professionals, and prison sentences in its wake. Rostain and Regan's cautionary tale remains highly relevant today, as lawyers and accountants continue to face intense competitive pressure and regulators still struggle to keep pace with accelerating financial risk and innovation.


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The rise and fall of a tax shelter industry that enabled some of America's richest citizens to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. For ten boom-powered years at the turn of the twenty-first century, some of America's most prominent law and accounting firms created and marketed products that enabled the very rich--including newly minted dot-com millionaires--to avoid pay The rise and fall of a tax shelter industry that enabled some of America's richest citizens to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. For ten boom-powered years at the turn of the twenty-first century, some of America's most prominent law and accounting firms created and marketed products that enabled the very rich--including newly minted dot-com millionaires--to avoid paying their fair share of taxes by claiming benefits not recognized by law. These abusive domestic tax shelters bore such exotic names as BOSS, BLIPS, and COBRA and were developed by such prestigious firms as KPMG and Ernst & Young. They brought in hundreds of millions of dollars in fees from clients and bilked the U.S. Treasury of billions in revenues before the IRS and Justice Department stepped in with civil penalties and criminal prosecutions. In Confidence Games, Tanina Rostain and Milton Regan describe the rise and fall of the tax shelter industry during this period, offering a riveting account of the most serious episode of professional misconduct in the history of the American bar. Rostain and Regan describe a beleaguered IRS preoccupied by attacks from antitax and antigovernment politicians; heightened competition for professional services; the relaxation of tax practitioner norms against aggressive advice; and the creation of complex financial instruments that made abusive shelters harder to detect. By 2004, the tax shelter boom was over, leaving failed firms, disgraced professionals, and prison sentences in its wake. Rostain and Regan's cautionary tale remains highly relevant today, as lawyers and accountants continue to face intense competitive pressure and regulators still struggle to keep pace with accelerating financial risk and innovation.

44 review for Confidence Games: Lawyers, Accountants, and the Tax Shelter Industry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lance Cahill

    Interesting exploration of various tax shelter strategies used and marketed in the 1990s and the cultures that allowed them to develop. Did not feel the book simplified matters (such as what ‘Smartest Guys in the Room’ did with Enron) yet was still an enjoyable read. The book focuses more on the tax bar than the accounting profession and discussion of the AICPA’s response, or state boards, would have been interesting.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    The e-book needs an editor - there were at least ten typos and questionable turns of phrase that were distracting from the subject matter. Also, the concluding section needs to be shortened considerably. The authors don't pull any punches describing the events taking place elsewhere in the book, so rehashing those thoughts in the conclusion while trying to bring together the larger themes comes across as repetitive. 3.5 stars The e-book needs an editor - there were at least ten typos and questionable turns of phrase that were distracting from the subject matter. Also, the concluding section needs to be shortened considerably. The authors don't pull any punches describing the events taking place elsewhere in the book, so rehashing those thoughts in the conclusion while trying to bring together the larger themes comes across as repetitive. 3.5 stars

  3. 5 out of 5

    Charles McGonigal

  4. 4 out of 5

    Matt Gulde

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tom

  6. 4 out of 5

    FLAVIA GEROLA

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    Brian Bojo

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    Reed Hollander

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    Sam Breske

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    SJR

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    Larry Bernstein

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    Cindy Zhang

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    Papadalek

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    Tyler Arbogast

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    Thomas Benson

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    Andrew Finley

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    Elizabeth Villarreal

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    John

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    Sam Brunson

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    Conal Cochran

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    Jeffrey Asselin

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    Jeremy Russell

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    Derek

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    James Wilson

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    Ed

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    Adam Dodek

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    Rama Murthy

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    Guðrún Gunnarsdóttir

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    Steven Lessard

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    Doug

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    Sondar Simanullang

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    Scott Lydon

  42. 5 out of 5

    D'laney Gielow

  43. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

  44. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany Lam

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