Scott J. Bakal


Scott is co-chair of the firm’s Taxation practice group. He develops tax-planning strategies for closely held family businesses, partnerships and publicly held corporations with significant domestic and international operations. Working primarily with high net worth individuals and entrepreneurial companies, he excels at finding elegant but simple tax-sensitive solutions to complex financial situations, business transactions, and estate planning matters. His clients span a diverse range of industries—real estate investments, management technologies, financial services, and many more. He works with clients to maximize tax efficiency at every level of their operations.

Scott has extensive experience in advising foreign families and individuals seeking to take advantage of favorable tax structures by migrating their assets and investments to the United States, particularly in Florida. Scott has the matchless ability to produce integrated solutions that encompass the complex components of both domestic and international tax planning. He constantly studies new approaches to tax planning to ensure his clients’ liabilities are minimized to the full extent allowable under the law.

A significant portion of Scott’s practice is focused on advising closely held businesses on the tax consequences of critical transactions, including structuring joint ventures, asset and stock purchase agreements, structuring like-kind exchanges involving valuable art collections, and the purchase, sale and management of luxury jets. He also counsels the owners of controlling stakes in publicly held corporations with respect to numerous aspects of their ownership interests, as well as executives in tax-sensitive compensation matters. Scott also serves as special tax counsel to white-collar criminal attorneys to assist with the defense of individuals charged with offenses arising out of overly aggressive tax planning.

  • Representation of real estate funds owned in part by sovereign wealth funds.
  • Representation of numerous offshore investors in their real estate investments and active U.S. business activities, in order to create structures that were both income tax and estate tax efficient.
  • Representation of a hedge fund management company in connection with a capital investment by a leading private equity firm.
  • Representation of an insurance brokerage firm in connection with the design and implementation of life insurance premium finance and life settlement programs.
  • Designing a tax efficient structure for a U.S. medical supply company in connection with its overseas expansion.
  • Representation of a Swedish company in connection with its U.S. real estate investments.
  • Representing the promoter of tax favored investments with respect to IRS audits challenging in excess of $1 billion of allegedly fraudulent income tax deductions.
  • Serving as an expert witness in a “midco” tax shelter case that is docketed for Tax Court (Loudermilk v. Commissioner). 
  • Implementation of an international structure to minimize taxation of intellectual property royalties using a "Double Irish Dutch Sandwich."
  • Representing the U.S.-based subsidiary of a multi-national hospitality company in connection with entering into a plea agreement with a state tax authority due to claims that the U.S. subsidiary accrued and deducted approximately $100 million of royalty deductions for amounts that were never paid (and never could be paid). This representation included restructuring numerous aspects of the client’s business operations in order to obtain U.S. tax compliance.
  • Tax efficient restructuring of foreign trust holdings for a U.S. family, in order to comply with U.S. income tax requirements.
  • Representing the bankruptcy trustee in Peregrine Financial Group, Inc. in connection with alleged income tax deficiencies arising from embezzled income.
  • Advising clients regarding the potential implementation of the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) principles of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
  • Implementation of an estate tax savings strategy using self canceling installment notes (including the receipt of an IRS closing letter providing "no change" when the taxpayer passed away less than a year after the transactions took place).
  • Structuring a transaction for a not-for-profit organization to exercise subscription rights in connection with the demutualization of an insurance company where capital stock was provided by a board member of the organization. The transaction was complex in that it needed to be completed in a manner that complied with applicable laws regulating not-for-profits, while avoiding the creation of unrelated business taxable incomes and the intermediate sanction rules.
  • Structuring private placement life insurance investments.
  • Representation of a profit sharing plan where the IRS attempted to disqualify the entire plan.
  • Organization of investment pools specializing in tax lien certificates and the origination of residential mortgages, in a manner which provided an efficient structure for non-U.S. investors and investors with atypical state income tax profiles.
  • Restructuring a controlling shareholder’s position in a publicly held company in order for the shareholder’s family to take advantage of available estate tax deferral provisions for certain concentrated holdings.
  • Representation of a not-for-profit entity with respect to corporate governance and not-for-profit issues.
  • Representation of taxpayers in connection with their renunciation of U.S. citizenship.
  • Tax planning for non-U.S. citizens prior to their becoming U.S. residents.
  • Advising a not-for-profit entity with respect to its exposure to the intermediate sanction rules.
  • Representation of a publicly traded real estate investment trust in its initial public offering and numerous acquisitions and dispositions.
  • Representation of a joint venture between a Korean public company and a U.S. company in connection with a $1 billion joint venture to develop privatized military housing in Seoul.
  • Representation of numerous real estate entities whose debts were restructured in tax efficient manners.
  • Representation of numerous taxpayers in like-kind exchange transactions.
  • Representation of clients seeking private letter rulings from the IRS.
  • Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, recommended in “Taxation” since 2017
  • The Legal 500 United States, recommended in “US Taxes: Non-Contentious” since 2017
  • The Best Lawyers in America, recommended in “Trusts & Estates” since 2010
  • Illinois Super Lawyers, recommended in “Closely Held Business; Estate Planning & Probate; and Tax: Business” on ten separate occasions

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois
  • Florida

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Tax Court