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Spotlight on Skadden Partner and Tax Podcast Host David Farhat

Aug. 12, 2022, 1:00 PM

Our Spotlight series highlights the careers and lives of tax professionals across the globe. This week’s Spotlight is on David Farhat, a tax partner in the Washington office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.

Farhat focuses on all phases of international tax planning and dispute resolution. Before joining Skadden last year, he was executive director, then principal of financial services/transfer pricing at EY. He previously was an attorney at the IRS, handling issues involving the Advance Pricing and Mutual Agreement (APMA) program. He’s a graduate of Syracuse University College of Law and of Georgetown University, where he received his LL.M. in tax law and taxation.

In his spare time, you might find Farhat working on his podcast, watching anime on TV, enjoying chicken wings, or dreaming of doing something “horribly irresponsible” with a big tax refund.

David Farhat
Skadden

What’s your official title and what does it mean? I am a partner in Skadden’s Tax Group, where I focus on all phases of international tax planning and dispute resolution, having advised some of the largest companies in North America, Europe, and Asia on their most complex multijurisdictional tax issues.

Free time: book, audiobook, or podcast? Despite launching and co-hosting a tax podcast (“GILTI Conscience"—check it out!) and being a fan of the platform, my preference is still for a book. Cannot beat the feel of paper.

Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest? Transfer pricing controversy—primarily competent authority practice. I’ve had the opportunity to develop and negotiate bilateral and multilateral advance pricing agreements and mutual agreement procedures with several US treaty partners, including the UK, France, Japan, Canada, and Switzerland.

What’s the last movie or show that you watched and loved (DVD, Netflix, or in the theater)? I’m still working my way through “Attack on Titan” on Hulu, one of the most popular anime series of all time.

What college did you attend and what did you study? I studied political philosophy at Syracuse University. I enjoyed the area of study, and it teaches one how to think, which I believe set me up nicely for a career in tax law. It is better to be lucky than good. The plan wasn’t to transition to tax—tax kind of found me in law school.

Go to pick-me-up: Coffee or tea? Green tea.

What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you? Not specifically tax or financial, but the best career advice I received was that it isn’t important to just be good at your job, but also to be good to work with.

If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be? Philosophy professor, because I very much enjoyed political philosophy, and I enjoy teaching. If I could read and discuss philosophy as a career, it would be pretty fun.

If you had the opportunity to make one change in the tax world—an extra credit, a disallowed deduction, whatever—what would it be? As international tax disputes increase, I would like to see taxpayers and tax authorities do more with the competent authority process. I think there are benefits to government in that it works as a training tool and for taxpayers in that it increases tax certainty.

Favorite food, snack, or candy during tax season or other busy time? Chicken wings.

What tax news or move made the most impact on your practice or clients this past year? Discussion around the OECD Pillars One and Two.

If you received a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it? I need someone to tell me something responsible to do with it so I can claim that is what I’m going to do—while actually doing something horribly irresponsible.

You can learn more about Farhat on Linkedin.

You can learn more about Farhat’s firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, on its website.

If you’d like to recommend a tax pro to be featured, send your suggestion to rbaker@bloombergindustry.com with the subject: Spotlight. Please include the following information: tax professional’s name, title, email address, and geographic area (city/state/country).

To contact the reporter on this story: Rebecca Baker in Washington at rbaker@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kelly Phillips Erb at kerb@bloombergindustry.com