Q&A With Bilzin Sumberg's Jeffrey Rubinger

by Bilzin Sumberg
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Jeffrey L. Rubinger is a partner in Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod's Miami office. He practices in the area of domestic and international taxation. He has been involved in tax planning for cross-border mergers and acquisitions, international restructurings and joint ventures, and in the use of financial products in cross-border settings.

In addition, Rubinger has experience in a range of transactions involving U.S. taxpayers doing business overseas, foreign taxpayers conducting business in the United States, as well as federal, state and local tax issues involving corporate reorganizations, partnerships, and subchapter S corporations.

Prior to attending law school, Rubinger practiced as a certified public accountant at a major accounting firm and holds an inactive certified public accountant license from the state of Florida. Rubinger is an adjunct tax professor at the University of Miami School of Law, LL.M. in Taxation Program where he has taught classes on advanced international taxation and the taxation of financial products.

Q: What is the most interesting or challenging tax problem you've worked on to date?

A: I was representing a client who was indicted for tax evasion for failure to report millions of dollars income earned from a Canadian joint venture. My goal was to claim a foreign tax credit for Canadian income taxes that accrued (but were never paid) on that income. The way the statutes are currently drafted, the foreign tax credit would retroactively eliminate her U.S. income tax deficiency for up to a 10-year period. Without an income tax deficiency, there could be no “tax evasion.” The tricky part was trying to convince a federal judge that a taxpayer should be allowed to claim amend income tax returns (post-indictment) and claim a foreign tax credit retroactively on income that was never reported to the United States or Canada. The federal district court agreed with my theory and that essentially resulted in the tax evasion charges being dismissed.

Q: Currently, what is a pressing tax concern for your clients, and how are you addressing it?

A: One of the biggest concerns for many of my clients is the ability to defer income earned outside the United States and eventually repatriate such profits without triggering substantial U.S. and foreign income tax liabilities. These concerns are addressed by properly structuring our client’s offshore businesses and investments in the most appropriate manner to avoid the U.S. anti-deferral rules.

Q: What do you anticipate being the biggest regulatory challenge in your practice in the coming year and why?

A: By far the biggest regulatory challenge in the international tax area is the constant changes to the statutes, regulations and positions of the IRS, and the number of legislative proposals being introduced that would drastically alter the current international tax environment. It makes it very challenging to create a structure for a client when you are aware of the possibility that the structure may not work if new legislation is enacted. While it certainly keeps the practice interesting, it is difficult for plan a structure that may be irrelevant in a couple of years.

Q: Outside of your own firm, who is an attorney in your practice area whom you admire, and what is the story of how s/he impressed you?

A: I was always impressed by Ed Cohen, who is currently with Winston & Strawn in New York. I worked for Ed many years ago and was impressed by his knowledge in the complex areas of tax dealing with the taxation of financial products, international taxation, M&A, etc. He had an impressive client base that came to him solely for tax advice. This was different than many other corporate tax lawyers at large law firms who primarily service the corporate department of their law firms.

This article is reprinted with permission from Law360.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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