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Scott J. Bakal develops tax-planning strategies for closely held family businesses, partnerships, and publicly held corporations with significant domestic and international operations. Scott works closely with high- and ultra-high-net-worth individuals and entrepreneurial companies to develop elegant, tax-sensitive approaches to their complex business transactions, financial situations, estate planning matters, and real estate investments, as well as to pursue tax efficiency throughout their operations.

Scott advises foreign individuals and families seeking to benefit from advantageous tax structures by migrating their investments and assets to the United States. He designs integrated strategies to encompass the complex components of both international and domestic tax planning. Scott continuously monitors the tax planning landscape for new, compliant approaches that can be implemented with the goal of minimizing his clients’ liabilities to the full extent allowable under the law.

Many of Scott’s clients are individuals and families in Latin America and Israel seeking counsel on the U.S. estate and income tax consequences of their investments and activities in the United States, including Florida.

Scott’s practice includes advising closely held businesses on the tax consequences of critical transactions, including structuring joint ventures and asset and stock purchase agreements. In addition, Scott advises executives in tax-sensitive compensation matters and the owners of controlling stakes in publicly held corporations.

As tax counsel, Scott also assists white collar criminal attorneys with the defense of clients charged with alleged offenses arising out of aggressive tax planning and is often hired by other law firms seeking smart tax structuring advice.

Concentrations

  • Domestic tax planning
  • International tax planning
  • Deal structuring
  • Compensation

Capabilities

Experience

  • Represented real estate funds owned in part by sovereign wealth funds.°
  • Designed a tax efficient structure for a U.S. medical supply company in connection with its overseas expansion.°
  • Represented a Swedish company in connection with its U.S. real estate investments.°
  • Implemented an international structure to minimize taxation of intellectual property royalties using a "Double Irish Dutch Sandwich."°
  • Represented the U.S.-based subsidiary of a multinational hospitality company in connection with entering into a plea agreement with a state tax authority due to claims that the U.S. subsidiary accrued and deducted approximately $100 million of royalty deductions for amounts that were never paid (and never could be paid). This representation included restructuring numerous aspects of the client’s business operations in order to obtain U.S. tax compliance.°
  • Advised clients regarding the potential implementation of the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) principles of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).°
  • Represented a joint venture between a Korean public company and a U.S. company in connection with a $1 billion joint venture to develop privatized military housing in Seoul.°
  • Represented an internet marketing company based in the U.S. Virgin Islands with respect to the tax planning of its owners.°
  • Represented a hedge fund management company in connection with a capital investment by a leading private equity firm.°
  • Represented an insurance brokerage firm in connection with the design and implementation of life insurance premium finance and life settlement programs.°
  • Represented the promoter of tax favored investments with respect to IRS audits challenging in excess of $1 billion of allegedly fraudulent income tax deductions.°
  • Represented the bankruptcy trustee in Peregrine Financial Group, Inc. in connection with alleged income tax deficiencies arising from embezzled income.°
  • Structured a transaction for a not-for-profit organization to exercise subscription rights in connection with the demutualization of an insurance company where capital stock was provided by a board member of the organization. The transaction was complex in that it needed to be completed in a manner that complied with applicable laws regulating not-for-profits while avoiding the creation of unrelated business taxable incomes and the intermediate sanction rules.°
  • Organized investment pools specializing in tax lien certificates and the origination of residential mortgages in a manner which provided an efficient structure for non-U.S. investors and investors with atypical state income tax profiles.°
  • Represented a not-for-profit entity with respect to corporate governance and not-for-profit issues.°
  • Advised a not-for-profit entity with respect to its exposure to the intermediate sanction rules.°
  • Represented a publicly traded real estate investment trust in its initial public offering and numerous acquisitions and dispositions.°
  • Represented clients seeking private letter rulings from the IRS.°
  • Represented numerous offshore investors in their real estate investments and active U.S. business activities in order to create structures that were both income and estate tax efficient.°
  • Tax planning for non-U.S. citizens prior to their becoming U.S. residents.°
  • Represented taxpayers in connection with their renunciation of U.S. citizenship.°
  • Represented non-U.S. clients with substantial holdings in U.S. stocks and real estate.°
  • Designed trust structures to optimize the use of the fiduciary accounting rules for throwback tax planning.°
  • Designed tax efficient qualified domestic trusts to minimize the eventual estate tax liability of taxpayers who did not have a U.S. spouse.°
  • Tax efficient restructuring of foreign trust holdings for a U.S. family in order to comply with U.S. income tax requirements.°
  • Implemented an estate tax savings strategy using self-canceling installment notes (including the receipt of an IRS closing letter providing "no change" when the taxpayer passed away less than a year after the transactions took place).°
  • Served as an expert witness in a “midco” tax shelter case that was docketed for Tax Court (Loudermilk v. Commissioner).°
  • Structured private placement life insurance investments.°
  • Represented a profit sharing plan where the IRS sought to disqualify the plan.°
  • Restructured a controlling shareholder’s position in a publicly held company in order for the shareholder’s family to take advantage of available estate tax deferral provisions for certain concentrated holdings.°
  • Represented numerous real estate entities whose debts were restructured in tax efficient manners.°
  • Represented numerous taxpayers in like-kind exchange transactions.°
  • Implemented general power of appointment planning for U.S. trusts with low basis, non-generation skipping tax exempt assets.°
  • Advised clients on how to structure their affairs to avoid residency in high tax states.°

°The above representations were handled by Mr. Bakal prior to his joining Greenberg Traurig, P.A.

Recognition & Leadership

  • Listed, The Best Lawyers in America, Trusts & Estates, Tax Law, 2010-2023
  • Listed, Chambers USA Guide, Taxation, 2017-2022
  • Listed, The Legal 500 United States, U.S. Taxes – Non-Contentious, 2017-2021
  • Listed, Super Lawyersmagazine, Illinois Super Lawyers, 2006-2007, 2009-2013, 2018-2022
  • Member, Florida Bar Association
    • Member, Tax Section
    • Member, Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section
  • Member, Estate Planning Council of Broward County
  • Member, Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners
  • Member, Palm Beach Tax Institute
  • Member, Professional Advisors Committee, Jewish Federation of Broward County
  • Professional Advisors Committee Member, Partnership2Gether (partnership between Chicago and Kiryat Gat/Lachish/Shafir) of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, 2012-Present
  • Treasurer, Glencoe Junior High Project, 2011-2016

Credentials

Education
  • J.D., magna cum laude, Harvard Law School, 1985
    • Concentration in Federal Taxation
  • B.S., magna cum laude, Yale University, 1982
Admissions
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • U.S. Tax Court