Thomas W. Ostrander represents individuals and entities in complex matters primarily involving disputes with the Internal Revenue Service including examinations, appeals, litigation and collections. He also defends individuals charged with wrongdoing by government entities both federal and state. In addition, he defends and prosecutes civil professional malpractice matters involving accountant and attorney negligence.
He is a member of the Criminal Justice Section and the Committee on Criminal and Civil Tax Penalties of the Taxation Section of the American Bar Association, the Criminal Law and Tax Law sections of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the Tax Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
Mr. Ostrander is a graduate of New York University School of Law (LL.M., taxation), a graduate of Temple University School of Law and a graduate of Villanova University.
Areas of Practice
- Civil and Criminal Tax Controversies
- White Collar Criminal Defense
- Cannabis Industry Issues
- IRS Voluntary Disclosures
- Defense of Professional (attorney and accountant) Malpractice
- Responsible Officer/Trust Fund Recovery Penalty
- Offers In Compromise
- Installment Agreements
- IRS Collection Matters
- Worker Reclassification
- Tax Return Preparer Penalty
- Fraud, Negligence and Accuracy Related Penalties
- Employment Tax Liabilities
- Tax Shelters
- Family Limited Partnerships
- Federal Tax Liens and Levies
- Audits and Appeals
- United States Tax Court Litigation
- Refund Claims, Appeals and Litigation
- Innocent Spouse
- Tax Planning and Litigation
- Deductibility of Litigation Expenses
- Transferee Liability
- IRS Criminal Investigations
- Grand Jury Subpoenas
- IRS Summons
- Represented a defendant charged in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania with filing false tax returns; although Federal Sentencing Guidelines called for a range of 10 to 16 months imprisonment, the team successfully moved for a downward variance to a term of probation.
- Appealing a civil tax liability of additional taxes, penalties, and interest, which was proposed by the IRS against an American expatriate living in Switzerland following a concluded criminal matter.
- Represented a client in an IRS examination. The client had failed to report certain foreign-sourced income, and so attempted to enter an IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program. When his application was denied, counsel recommended a course of action which minimized the client's FBAR penalty and successfully avoided fraud charges.
- Advocated for a dual American/South African citizen to avoid OVDP penalties and receive transitional relief, thereby reducing his liability to the IRS by several hundred thousand dollars.
- Assisting a dual Swiss-American citizen with unwinding special financial relationships in Switzerland, in the aftermath of his having received probation in a concluded criminal matter.
- In United States v. Edgar Paltzer, represented a Swiss financial intermediary in negotiating a resolution to a multi-count indictment charging various federal tax offenses involving US taxpayers hiding assets in Switzerland. Negotiated a plea to a single count of conspiracy and arranged a bail package permitting the client to return to Switzerland pending his sentencing.
- In United States v. Albert Cambata, represented expatriated former US citizen residing in Switzerland in criminal tax prosecution. Secured bail package permitting the client to return to Switzerland pending sentencing. Through sentencing advocacy secured sentence of one year unsupervised probation and small fine in face of government's recommendation of extensive prison sentence. Client continues to reside in Switzerland with no travel restrictions.
- Has represented over 400 individuals in IRS voluntary disclosure matters since March 2009. Representation has included successfully arguing for complete elimination or significant reduction of FBAR penalties and the successful use of a taxpayer assistance order issued by the National Taxpayer Advocate to force the Internal Revenue Service to comply with FAQ 35 of the 2009 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program thereby forcing the Internal Revenue Service to give consideration to the taxpayers’ reasonable cause argument. The representation resulted in the complete elimination of the FBAR and accuracy-related penalties.
- A Forbes 400 individual client was faced with a complex IRS matter. The engagement occurred after the IRS examination team had concluded its examination. The recommendation to the client was to use a mediation process referred to as Rapid Appeals Procedure ("RAP") as a way to resolve the matter quickly. Based upon the presentation made in the RAP, the IRS conceded approximately 80 percent of the proposed adjustments.
- One of the ten largest reinsurance companies in the world was confronted with an IRS Appeals procedure involving a proposed deficiency in excess of $800 million. The appeal involved eight different issues concerning complex matters involving the tax treatment of certain reinsurance transactions. The engagement was to develop and lead a team of approximately 20 attorneys and subject matter experts in an appeals procedure that lasted over 18 months. In the end the IRS conceded all but $60 million of the proposed deficiency.
- Represented a publicly traded real estate investment trust in a complex examination. The primary adjustments concerned transfer pricing issues. After assembling a transfer pricing team, coordinating the preparation of a transfer pricing report and presenting the taxpayer's position to the examination team manager, the IRS concluded the matter with no changes to the client's tax returns.
- A leading real estate developer was engaged in other activities which the IRS deemed hobbies, thereby denying numerous deductions. Despite almost 20 years of continuous losses in the activities, in Appeals a 75 percent concession by the IRS was obtained.
- A Delaware trust company serving as trustee of a trust had engaged in numerous financial transactions at the direction of the grantor of the trust. The IRS viewed the transactions as abusive and sought to impose a significant deficiency against the trust. After an intense review of the hundreds of documents involved in the transactions, a presentation was made to the examination team demonstrating that the trust managed by the client trust company was in fact directed by the grantor of the trust, received no tax or other financial benefit from the transactions and that in fact it was the grantor of the trust who was responsible for the tax liability generated by the financial transactions. Ultimately the IRS concluded the matter with no change to the trust's tax returns and pursued the grantor.
- A prominent New York philanthropist was investigated for the evasion of millions of dollars in sales/use tax. The client had shipped works of art purchased in NYC to a weekend out-of-state residence (thereby avoiding taxes) but the art was promptly sent to the client's Park Ave residence (thereby making the transaction taxable). At the time the client was the chair of a high-profile public institution and avoidance of publicity was a paramount concern. The matter was quickly resolved with the correct amount of tax being paid and penalties were eliminated in part based upon the theory that the client had depended upon the advice of the art gallery owner in shipping the property tax-free.
- Mr. Ostrander successfully represented a partner in a major accounting firm in an Internal Revenue Service criminal investigation arising out of the accounting firm's former client's prosecution for income tax evasion. The representation resulted in a declination of the proposed criminal prosecution of the partner. This representation was followed by the successful defense of the partner and the accounting firm in a professional malpractice action commenced by the former client.
- Represented a boutique law firm before the IRS Appeals Division and Office of Chief Counsel and was able to reconstruct income and deductions resulting in the reduction of the assessment of tax, interest and penalty by more than $1.2 million.
- Represented a director of tax and finance of a public company in negotiating a criminal disposition based upon failure to file or pay New York City income tax since 2000 from a potential seven-year term of incarceration down to payment of back taxes and a fine, along with community service.
- In Robinson v. United States, the Third Circuit in a case of first impression established the taxpayer's right to challenge an IRS lien under the "quiet title" provisions of the United States Code. Traditionally such an attack on liens had been viewed as an impermissible challenge to the underlying tax deficiency. Mr. Ostrander, acting as lead counsel, convinced the court that an exception should apply when the Internal Revenue Service failed to comply with its own rules in filing a federal tax lien.
- In Tinsley v. Commissioner, Mr. Ostrander acting as lead counsel convinced the Tax Court that the Internal Revenue Service's position regarding tax deficiencies owed by a CPA were not justified and was successful in having the Court award the taxpayer the attorney fees he incurred in disputing the IRS action.
- In Botsaris v. Commissioner, Mr. Ostrander was successful in obtaining innocent spouse status relief for his client, relieving the taxpayer of liability for underreported income on a joint federal income tax return.
- In Bellis v. Commissioner, Mr. Ostrander, serving as co-counsel, was successful in asserting a claim that the statute of limitations barred the assessment of any tax liability.
- In Estate of Anne Marie Fahey v. Thomas Capano, Mr. Ostrander represented the family and the estate of the victim in this high profile murder case. He was involved in all aspects of the representation from the initial phases of the investigation of the crime through the conviction of the accused at trial. He prosecuted a civil action against the murderer, his co-conspirators and their corporations which resulted in a significant monetary settlement.
- Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
- Supreme Court of the United States
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
- U.S. Tax Court
- U.S. Court of Claims
- New York University School of Law, LL.M. Taxation
- Temple University School of Law, J.D.
- Duane Morris LLP
- Partner, 1986-present
- Associate, 1978-1985
- U.S. Navy
- American Bar Association
- Criminal Justice Section
- Taxation Section
-- Criminal and Civil Tax Penalties Committee
- Pennsylvania Bar Association
- Criminal Law Section
- Tax Law Section
- Philadelphia Bar Association
- Tax Section
- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- Participant, Internal Revenue Service's Internal Continuing Professional Education Program for Revenue Officers, July 16, 1997
Honors and Awards
Listed in The Best Lawyers in America, 2020-2021
Listed in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, 2018-2020
- Award from IRS - Eastern PA Working Together Conference - 20 Years of Service
- Named a Citywealth Leader
Listed in Pennsylvania Super Lawyers, 2004, 2011-2020
- AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®
- Author, "New IRS Audit Program Focuses on Unfiled Forms Reporting Transactions with Foreign Trusts – Compliance Issues with Forms 3520 and 3520-A Threaten Massive Penalties," Duane Morris Alert, September 29, 2020
- Co-author, "In Cannabis Case, Tax Court Dissent Concludes Section 280E Is Unconstitutional," Duane Morris Alert, October 24, 2019
Author, "U.S. Assists Finland in Investigation of Payment Cardholders for Unreported Income via John Doe Summons - Will the Use of LLCs and Trusts Conceal Their Identities?" Duane Morris Alert, May 10, 2019
Author, "IRS Announces New and Updated Voluntary Disclosure Program for Foreign and Domestic Tax Issues," Duane Morris Alert, December 5, 2018
Author, "Correcting Offshore Tax Problems Before and After IRS Closes Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program on September 28, 2018," Duane Morris Alert, March 15, 2018
- "Bank Leumi Agreement with Department of Justice Results in Disclosure of Identities of 1,500 U.S. Account Holders," Duane Morris Alert, January 12, 2015
- "IRS Announces Major Changes to Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program," Duane Morris Alert, June 23, 2014
- Co-author (with Duane Morris colleague, Hope Krebs), USA Chapter, Tax Litigation - Jurisdictional Comparisons, 1st Ed 2013, Thomson Reuters-European Lawyer Reference Series
- "2012 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program FAQs and Compliance Plan for U.S. Citizens Residing Overseas," Duane Morris Alert, July 11, 2012
- "New 2012 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program; Taxpayer Advocate Criticizes IRS "Bait & Switch"; Current Offshore Enforcement Initiatives," Duane Morris Alert, January 24, 2012
- "HSBC India Accounts Sought by IRS: Time Running Out for IRS Voluntary Disclosure by HSBC India Customers," Duane Morris Alert, April 13, 2011
- "IRS Voluntary Disclosure "Penalty Framework" for Offshore Accounts," Duane Morris Alert, March 31, 2011
- "IRS Announces New Voluntary Disclosure Program with Translations in Eight Languages," Duane Morris Alert, March 31, 2011
- "IRS Voluntary Disclosure Practice Update," Duane Morris Alert, March 8, 2010
- "U.S. Indicts Four Credit Suisse Bankers in Increasing Crackdown on Offshore Accounts: Time for Voluntary Disclosure Running Out," Duane Morris Alert, February 25, 2011
- "Final Rules to Amend the Bank Secrecy Act Regulations Regarding Reports of Foreign Financial Accounts (FBARs)," Duane Morris Alert, February 25, 2011
- "IRS Announces New Voluntary Disclosure Program," Duane Morris Alert, February 9, 2011
- "Criteria for Disclosure of Swiss Accounts Announced: Now That the Offshore IRS Voluntary Disclosure Program Has Ended, What's a Taxpayer to Do?" Duane Morris Alert, November 24, 2009
- Co-author, "U.S. Accounts to Be Disclosed Under U.S.-Swiss Settlement Agreement," Practical US/International Tax Strategies, September 15, 2009
- "IRS Voluntary Disclosure Program Update," Duane Morris Alert, August 28, 2009
- "IRS Announces Voluntary Disclosure Program Affecting U.S. Persons with Offshore Financial Accounts," Duane Morris Alert, March 27, 2009
- "The Offshore Credit Card and Financial Arrangement Probe: Fraught With Danger for Taxpayers," Journal of Taxation, August 2003
- Co-author, "Counsel Interaction with Government Agencies and Fiscal Intermediaries," Health Care Dispute Resolution Manual: Techniques for Avoiding Litigation, December 2001
Selected Speaking Engagements
- Presenter, "Cannabis 305: Tax Strategies - Building the Strongest Tax Toolbox for Cannabis Businesses," Duane Morris Cannabis Webinar Series, July 29, 2020
- Moderator, "IRS Practice & Procedure Panel," Eastern PA WorkingTogether Conference, (Joint Effort of Public and Private Tax Professionals), May 2017
- "IRS International Enforcement Update," Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants - Greater Philadelphia Chapter Annual Tax Forum, November 15, 2016
- "Update -IRS Voluntary Disclosure," Eastern PA Working Together Conference, (Joint Effort of Public and Private Tax Professionals), May 2016
- "Reporting Undisclosed Foreign Assets," PSTAP (PA Society Tax Accounting Professionals), Buxmont Chapter, September 2015
- "Offshore Voluntary Disclosure," Eastern PA Working Together Conference (Joint Effort of Public and Private Tax Professionals), May 2014
- "Emerging International Issues," Eastern PA Working Together Conference (Joint Effort of Public and Private Tax Professionals), May 2012
- "Foreign Bank Account Reporting," Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants – Greater Philadelphia Chapter Federal Tax Committee, February 2012
- "Current Developments in IRS Civil & Criminal Tax Matters," Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants – Central Chapter Annual Tax Conference, November 2011
- "Family Limited Partnership Planning and Litigation Strategies," Pennsylvania Bar Association, Probate and Trust Law Section, June 2011 Quarterly Meeting
- "FBARs for Local Practitioners," Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Greater Philadelphia Chapter Annual Tax Forum, November 2011
- "Anti-Money Laundering Regulations in Italy and the European Union v. the USA," ALMA (Italian LLM association) 2011 Winter Meeting, January 27, 2011
- "IRS Practices and Procedures," Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Central Chapter Annual Tax Conference, November 18, 2010
- "IRS Enforcement Initiatives: Planning and Coping Strategies for Accountants and Their Clients with International Activities," Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants' Greater Philadelphia Cooperation with the Bar Committee CLE/CPE program, January 20, 2010
- "IRS Practices and Procedures," Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Central Chapter Annual Tax Conference, November 19, 2009
- Speaker, STEP Pacific Rim Conference, May 7-8, 2009
- "Defending White Collar Cases - The Ultimate Heavyweight Fight," Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, February 12, 2009, and Philadelphia, PA, February 27, 2009
- "Update on Internal Revenue Service Practice and Procedure," Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Central Chapter Annual Tax Conference, November 20, 2008
- "Update on Internal Revenue Service Practice and Procedure," Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Central Chapter Annual Tax Conference, November 15, 2007
- Course Moderator and Planner, "Representing Your Client with the IRS - Appeals, Audits, Collections and Offers in Compromise," Pennsylvania Bar Institute program, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 30, 2007
- "Penalties, Abatement, Liens and Levies," Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Central Chapter Annual Tax Conference, November 16, 2006
- "Representing a Client in the Tax Court," Pennsylvania Bar Institute program: Litigating in the U.S. Tax Court and Refund Forums, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 11, 2006
- "IRS Practice And Procedure - Current Issues In Mediation/Arbitration, Innocent Spouse And Offers In Compromise," Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Central Chapter Annual Tax Conference, November 11, 2004
- "IRS Practice And Procedure - Current Issues In Mediation/Arbitration, Innocent Spouse And Offers In Compromise," Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Southwest Chapter Ninth Annual Tax Conference, December 12, 2003
- "Bond Issuers Response to an IRS Enforcement Action," Pennsylvania Association for Bond Lawyers' Annual Seminar, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, May 22, 2003
- "Recent Developments in Civil and Criminal Tax Controversy Matters," Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 22, 2003
- "Civil and Criminal Tax Issues in Domestic Relations Matters," Did You Get Your Deal? - Enforcement and Security Issues, Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section, January 22, 2000