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New York law firm’s expansion a homecoming for Md. tax attorney

Tax attorney Caroline D. Ciraolo (File photo)

Tax attorney Caroline D. Ciraolo (File photo)

Since coming to Baltimore for law school more than 25 years ago, tax attorney Caroline D. Ciraolo has planted strong roots in Charm City. So after serving as acting assistant attorney general of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Tax Division in the Obama administration, it seemed natural for Baltimore to be part of the next step in her career.

Ciraolo is leading New York-based Kostelantez & Fink LLP’s expansion into the region, which it formally celebrated by opening its Washington office Monday.

“I was raised professionally in (Baltimore) and I’m happy to be back,” said Ciraolo.

Since May, Ciraolo has been traveling around Maryland to meet with clients. She also found office space in downtown Baltimore on Lombard Street. The firm has 20 lawyers, most based in New York, who will use the Baltimore space when they have a matter in the area.

“After operating exclusively from New York for over 60 years, we are excited about launching operations in the District, Maryland and Virginia area,” said Bryan C. Skarlatos, managing partner of Kostelanetz & Fink. “It’s a natural enhancement to our government-oriented tax, regulatory and white collar criminal practice. Caroline Ciraolo is an accomplished and talented lawyer who will both deepen our bench and grow the firm’s practice.”

A New Jersey native, Ciraolo graduated from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in 1993 and earned her LL.M. in taxation at University of Baltimore School of Law the following year. She then had a clerkship at U.S. Tax Court in Washington and used to commute from Baltimore. Before joining the Department of Justice’s Tax Division in 2015, Ciraolo was a partner who formed and grew the tax controversy and litigation practice group at Rosenberg Martin Greenberg LLP in Baltimore.

In the Justice Department’s tax division, Ciraolo oversaw 500 employees including 360 attorneys across more than a dozen civil, criminal and appellate sections. During her tenure, the tax division reached agreements with 80 Swiss financial institutions that admitted to facilitating tax evasion and avoided reporting requirements for U.S. account holders. The division imposed and collected $1.36 billion in penalties, increased enforcement for offshore tax evasion and other violations.

After leaving the Department of Justice in January, Ciraolo was looking for a firm that would be a good fit for her and maintain her Maryland ties. She had contacts at Kostelantez & Fink, and the firm’s plans to open a Washington office presented “a very attractive opportunity.”

“It was important to have a firm that understood my connection with Baltimore and with Maryland,” said Ciraolo, whose husband is a homicide detective with the Baltimore Police Department. “I came here in 1990 and never left.”

Kostelanetz & Fink handles complex civil tax cases, criminal white collar defense, international tax planning and other criminal, regulatory and civil litigation matters. Ciraolo’s practice focuses on civil tax controversies including audits, administrative appeals, litigation in tax tribunals and criminal tax investigations and prosecutions.

“I’m joining a firm that has a national and international reputation in my field,” she said.

While the tax bar is smaller than others, Ciraolo sees it as a growing area of law as more local, state and national governments calculate tax gaps for potential revenue sources.

“I think it’s only going to get busier,” she said.

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