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The vast majority of Stefan Tucker’s work is done quietly, behind closed doors, where he helps well-heeled clients work out the tax woes associated with fat real estate portfolios. “I made my career on not talking about things,” says Tucker, 64, referring to his client roster, reputed to be a sort of Who’s Who of local real estate families. One family whose troubles did become public was the Hafts. Tucker represented Gloria Haft and two of her children in dividing up the family’s real estate holdings in the wake of Mrs. Haft’s contentious divorce from her husband, Herbert, in the early 1990s. Widely regarded as the local dean of real estate tax, Tucker is the author of the two-volume treatise on real estate tax, Tax Planning for Real Estate Transactions. He has taught federal taxation of real estate for more than 30 years, first at George Washington University Law School, and since 1990 at Georgetown University Law Center. For many years Tucker ran his own law firm, Tucker Flyer, which merged into Venable in 1999. “I’ve been involved in every aspect of the planning of real estate transactions,” says Tucker, ticking off the usual list of areas, from acquisition to ownership structure, that trigger tax considerations. “What makes Stef good is his sense of what’s practical,” says Paul Wilner, a partner at the Grossberg Co., a CPA firm in Bethesda. Grossberg has worked with Tucker on tax problems and admires his ability to come up with straightforward solutions to complex issues. “He has an amazing breadth of knowledge of tax, but above all he is a businessman,” Wilner says. Robert Carr, president of CarrAmerica Urban Development Inc., says that Tucker and his partner, Robert Gottlieb, once advised his company on how to structure a couple of private partnerships in which CarrAmerica was a general partner. “Stef is particularly adept at understanding highly complex financial structures and transactions and summarizing them into insightful points for the client,” Carr says. “He articulates clearly to clients what their options are.” The final key to Tucker’s success is a congenial personality, according to Arnold Koonin at PricewaterhouseCoopers, the partner responsible for the personal financial services practice in the Washington area. “He’s got a great personality, and he’s able to bring people together,” Koonin says.

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