Kathy Keneally, a partner at Fulbright & Jaworski, was confirmed late last week as assistant attorney general of the tax division of the Department of Justice. "The division investigates identity theft, illegal tax shelters and other crimes, while approving every tax case filed by the 94 presidentially appointed U.S. attorneys serving the Justice Department around the country." David Voreacos, Keneally Confirmed to Lead Justice Department Tax Division, Bloomberg News (Mar. 30, 2012).
This is an important appointment, coming at a time when the division is understaffed because of "detailing" attorneys and support staff to U.S. attorney offices around the country and in the midst of a large-scale investigation into offshore tax evasion. The information from thousands of taxpayers who have voluntarily reported their offshore accounts under the various "amnesty" programs (where they are permitted lower penalties than otherwise would apply, and must provide full disclosure of information about the banks and brokers who assisted in hiding the assets) will ideally lead to successful investigations and prosecutions of the biggest scofflaws who have intentionally hidden assets abroad to avoid taxation.
Keneally, known nationally as a "super lawyer" (Law & Politics magazine, 2007-2011), is an experienced tax attorney who has been recognized nationally. Her bio as an appointee, available here, She is a graduate of Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Fordham Law, and the NYU LLM program in Taxation. She received the Thurgood Marshall Award from the Bar of the City of New York in 1998, and has been frequently listed in Chambers USA as a leading business lawyer--for tax controversy and tax fraud, among other areas. She is co-chair of the Naitonal Institute on Criminal Tax Fraud and has been co-chair of the National Institute on Tax Controversy. She is a member of the American College of Tax Counsel and has held numerous positions in the ABA's Section on Taxation.
Since I was also a student at both Cornell (graduate student in linguistics and NYU's LLM program, you'd think we would have met back then, but we did not meet until I became active in the ABA's Standards Committee. Kathy is a skilled lawyer who will bring energy and dedication to her role in the Justice Department. I wish her the best of luck and "good hunting" as she works to reign in identity theft and offshore tax evasion.