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Last Laugh for Late Tax Lawyer

December 17, 2009

Tax attorney Burton W. Kanter died eight years ago, but he still managed to win a case against the IRS earlier this month.

Or at least his heirs did after a Chicago appeals court decided his estate didn’t have to pay about $40 million in taxes, interest and penalties the IRS claimed they owed. In the context of the Senate leadership’s failure this week to extend the estate tax at its current rates, the story on of how Kanter and his wealthy clients, including the billionaire Pritzker family, managed to get away with the sophisticated tax strategies he devised for them makes for eye-opening reading.

As the IRS steps up its efforts to go after high-income clients with expert examiners from its Large and Mid-size Business Division, the story of Kanter’s success at constantly staying one step ahead of the IRS shows how ingenuity and a shrewd attorney can still get around the best efforts of the tax authorities, albeit after years of legal proceedings that would exhaust the resources of all but the wealthiest clients.

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