Caroline Ciraolo.
Caroline Ciraolo. (Courtesy photo)

Two tax experts with high-profile government and private practice experience have joined New York boutique Kostelanetz & Fink and will launch the firm’s new Washington, D.C., office.

“We hope to grow,” said partner Caroline Ciraolo, who came to Kostelanetz & Fink this month after leading the U.S. Department of Justice’s Tax Division during the final two years of the Obama administration. Ciraolo had earlier chaired the tax controversy and litigation group at Baltimore’s Rosenberg Martin Greenberg.

Joining Ciraolo in the firm’s new D.C. office is Jay Nanavati, a former assistant chief of the Tax Division’s Criminal Enforcement Section who spent the past five years as a partner at Baker & Hostetler.

“We are starting a new office sort of from scratch, but with the support of existing firm,” Nanavati said.

Jay Nanavati.

The office will be Kostelanetz & Fink’s first outpost outside New York. The 60-year-old firm, which has 22-lawyers and specializes in tax matters, white-collar defense and litigation, had always sought to open a D.C. branch and jumped at the chance to hire Ciraolo and Nanavati, said managing partner Bryan Skarlatos.

Ciraolo “knocked it out of the park,” at the Justice Department, Skarlatos said, citing the Tax Division’s Swiss Bank Program, which held 80 Swiss financial institutions accountable for facilitating tax evasion by U.S. accountholders. The agency also cracked down on unpaid payroll taxes under Ciraolo’s tenure, he said.

For Ciraolo, some resettlement issues remain with her return to private practice. Her new firm still hasn’t secured office space in the capital, and she referred to the government as “we” before catching herself. “It’s hard to break,” she said about the habit.

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