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Confidence Games: Lawyers, Accountants, and the Tax Shelter Industry Hardcover – April 25, 2014

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Confidence Games is a lively and deeply informed human story of what went on inside the big legal and accounting firms before, during, and after the tax shelter scandals that made front page news at the turn of the millennium. Rostain and Regan give readers a solid primer, translating arcane principles of accounting. Then they add a human touch with telling details mined from a public record few others have explored.

(David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning tax journalist and Syracuse University law and accounting lecturer)

Few of us imagine that we will cross the line in our professional lives -- and be jailed, fined, or both. But Confidence Games tells a sobering tale of individual weakness and institutional and regulatory failure that allowed esteemed law firms, accounting firms, and multinationals to reap illegal profits at the expense of the nation.

(Diane Ring, Professor of Law, Boston College Law School, and coauthor of Ethical Problems in Federal Taxation)

This book manages what many might think impossible: it's a page-turner about tax. It shows what can happen when very smart people unconstrained by ethics invent and use ingenious schemes. The history is fascinating in its own right, but it is also, unfortunately, a much-needed reminder of how gameable regulation can be.

(Claire Hill, Professor and James L. Krusemark Chair in Law, University of Minnesota Law School)

Rostain and Regan have captured one of the most interesting -- and most troubling -- episodes in the checkered history of tax shelters. Their analysis raises critical ethical and policy questions about how we train, monitor, and discipline lawyers and other financial professionals today.

(Anne L. Alstott, Jacquin D. Bierman Professor in Taxation, Yale Law School)

About the Author

Tanina Rostain is Professor of Law and Codirector of the Center for the Study of the Legal Profession at Georgetown Law School.

Milton C. Regan, Jr., is Codirector of the Center for the Study of the Legal Profession and McDevitt Professor of Jurisprudence at Georgetown Law School.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 424 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (April 25, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262027135
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262027137
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #482,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
I represented a KPMG defendant in the big criminal prosecution, so I knew, from that perspective, a lot of the matters discussed in the book. From that perspective, I wasn't sure what I would learn new from the book. The authors do a great job of mining some of the big themes there. They get the details pretty much correct, as best I can see it. But they deal with larger issues -- particularly, what was the mission drift that permitted big accounting and law firms do these deals when, in the past, they would not have touched them with the proverbial ten foot pole. Of course, it was greed and a type of groupthink and dispersion of responsibility that permitted the players to keep pushing the envelope -- ultimately across the line. Excellent read. History will repeat itself. These cycles will come back, particularly as big accounting firms and law firms look for ever increasing revenue and profits per equity partner.
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Format: Hardcover
This book -- subtitled “Lawyers, Accountants, and the Tax Shelter Industry” -- should be required reading for, first and foremost, all members of Congress, irrespective of the side of the aisle they occupy, and, second, those pundits who seem to have nothing better to do than criticize, often in the most negative and vituperative manner, the Internal Revenue Service.
As the authors point out, in a manner that flows so smoothly that one never feels bogged down with minutiae, but rather wishes to read on and on late into the night, the great mass of the taxpaying public, who in large measure pay their Federal and state income taxes via withholding, were effectively hostage to the tax shelter games undertaken by very well-to-do taxpayers who were seduced by lawyers and accountants, as well as bankers and financial institutions. Yes, lawyers, the very professionals who, by their Codes of Professional Responsibility, are tasked with protecting the public from predators -- even (and importantly) those who have the masks/facades of great respectability by virtue of being members of the Bar and often of highly respected law firms, and accountants, who have similar marks of respectability as members of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
The authors start their tale rolling forward by pointing out that in the late 1990s the IRS was under scrutiny by Congress due, in part, to claims at Senate hearings on alleged misconduct by the IRS made by various taxpayers, including a taxpayer who reported that the IRS had instigated an armed nighttime raid on his house. A year after the hearings were held, the authors note that it became “clear that the most serious charges against the IRS were grossly exaggerated and, in many cases, simply false.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A little difficult to get into and preachy at the end, but spectacular reporting in the middle.
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