Our Spotlight series highlights the careers and lives of tax professionals across the globe. This week’s spotlight is on tax controversy litigator Kevin Sweeney, who works in Chamberlain Hrdlicka’s Philadelphia office.
What’s your official title and what does it mean? I am an equity shareholder for the law firm of Chamberlain, Hrdlicka, White, Williams & Aughtry in its federal tax controversy practice group. That means that I am part-owner of my law firm and focus my practice on defending clients in IRS audits, civil tax litigation, and criminal tax investigations and prosecutions.
Free time: book, audiobook, or podcast? I spend most of my weekdays reading, so when I am home or on vacation, I would typically rather do something else. I do, however, enjoy a good podcast from time to time when exercising or driving.
Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest? My area of special interest is the intersection between civil and criminal tax matters. I enjoy helping clients navigate difficult situations, and few present more minefields than a civil IRS examination involving potentially sensitive issues.
What’s the last movie or show that you watched and loved (DVD, Netflix, or in the theater)? The last series I watched was “Your Honor” on Showtime. If you enjoy a crime drama with some twists and turns, it is definitely worth checking out.
What college did you attend and what did you study? I attended Loyola University in Maryland for my undergraduate studies, where I majored in accounting. I subsequently earned my law degree at New York Law School. Although I decided not to make accounting a career, what I learned about financial concepts and statements studying accounting has been an incredible asset for me as a tax attorney.
Go to pick-me-up: Coffee or tea? I can’t operate without my morning joe, so I have to go with coffee. I like to keep it simple ... no lattes or macchiatos for me. I rarely drink tea unless it’s from Long Island.
What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you? I think the best tax advice that I received was to always keep good records. Without them, an otherwise routine IRS audit or criminal investigation can become a nightmare.
If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be? Since we are dreaming, I would like to be a starting safety for the New York Jets. Being a tax attorney is my not-so-close second dream job …
If you had the opportunity to make one change in the tax world - an extra credit, a disallowed deduction, whatever—what would it be? I would probably beef up the credits and deductions for daycare and student loans to give more young people and families some much-needed financial relief.
Favorite food, snack or candy during tax season or other busy time? When I get busy and decide to reward myself with something sweet, my go-to is Oreos. I don’t mess around with twisting the halves apart. Who has time for that?
What tax news or move made the most impact on your practice or clients this past year? The news that has the biggest potential to impact my practice is the move to get the IRS more money and resources for tax enforcement. With more resources comes more audits and criminal investigations, so now is the time for taxpayers and their advisers to proactively clean up any known issues.
If you received a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it? If Uncle Sam handed me a big tax refund check, I would use it to take a vacation with my family. It is difficult to find a truly good time to get away, but it’s important to recharge the batteries so they don’t burn out.
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