I thought I would point readers to another blog, by Christopher Bergin of Tax Notes, The Legend of Rusty Pipes (3/7/13), here. His blog was written in response to the recent announcements of E&Y's deferred prosecution agreement and a tax shelter lawyer's sentencing. See E&Y Admits Wrongdoing on Bullshit Tax Shelters; Will Pay $123 Million (3/1/13), here, and USA SDNY Announces Sentencing of Daugerdas Related Defendant (3/23/13), here.
Some excerpts from Mr. Bergin's article to whet your appetite to read his full blog:
Referring to the tax shelter abuses in the 1990s:
For me, the most disturbing fact of those days was the involvement of lawyers in the tax shelter scandal. Please don’t misunderstand me. It’s a good tax lawyer’s job to legally minimize what a client pays in taxes. I also believe lawyers are the stewards of the tax code and should protect it. Lawyers need to know where the line is and not to cross it. In the 90s, there were good lawyers at good law firms who forgot that. The rallying cry was “we are just taking care of our clients.” The truth was that some lawyers were simply taking care of themselves. One was actually famously quoted as saying, “It’s a question of sleeping or eating, and I’d rather eat.”
Today, there is a whole new generation of tax lawyers. They should learn the lesson of the 90s. And not learn it the hard way.Quoting some of his comments in an article from the early 1990s:
You may have heard this one, but I’m trying to illustrate a point. A guy walks into a crowded bar, stumbles over to the bartender, orders a drink, and turns to the crowd and shouts, “All lawyers are jerks!” (When retelling the story, “jerks” can be substituted with something stronger.) Way in the back of the room another guy stands up and says, “I resent that!” The first guy looks at him and says, “What are you, a lawyer?” The second guy says, “No, I’m a jerk.”