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Education

  • J.D., University of Virginia School of Law, 1980, Order of the Coif
  • B.S., Northwestern University, 1977, with highest distinction

Bar and Court Admissions

  • New York
  • District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court, District of Maryland
  • U.S. District Court, District of Columbia
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Columbia
  • U.S. Tax Court
  • District of Columbia Court of Appeals

Other Professional Affiliations

9Vice-Chair, Committee Operations, ABA Section of Taxation

Founder and Co-Chair, ABA Section of Taxation, Annual International Tax Enforcement and Controversy Conference

Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Miami School of Law Graduate Program in Taxation

Fellow, American College of Tax Counsel

Co-Founder and Director, Buildable Hours, Inc.

Mentor, American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative

Member, International Fiscal Association

Member, International Bar Association

Government Experience

Law Clerk, Honorable Joyce Hens Green, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, 1980-1981

Scott D. Michel

Member, Washington, D.C.
(202) 862-5030
smichel@capdale.com | v-card | PDF

Scott D. Michel is a Member of Caplin & Drysdale who brings over three decades of experience in complex and sensitive tax controversy matters to his work on behalf of firm clients. With the firm since 1981, Mr. Michel serves on Caplin & Drysdale’s Board of Directors, and was the firm's President from 2007-2015.

Services

Mr. Michel’s practice centers on tax enforcement and controversy, with an emphasis on highly-sensitive criminal tax, and potential criminal tax issues. These cases range from handling complex grand jury investigations into tax and related crimes, advising in sensitive civil tax examinations, and assisting wealthy individuals and families address unintentional U.S. tax compliance errors. With corporate and individual clients spanning five continents, Mr. Michel has particularly extensive experience managing U.S. compliance and enforcement issues arising from international and offshore circumstances. In specific, his practice encompasses the following types of cases:

  • Counseling financial institutions and other companies, advisors and professionals, and individual taxpayers on criminal tax matters arising from criminal tax investigations conducted by the U.S. Justice Department Tax Division and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division.
  • Advising on highly-sensitive civil tax examinations of individuals or companies where potential fraud issues may arise.
  • Assisting clients in IRS offshore-related tax examinations seeking to impose tax, interest and penalties for the prior failure to report foreign accounts or assets.
  • Working with international families, that have complex financial footprints in the U.S. and other countries, on addressing U.S. tax compliance issues.
  • Helping to bring into compliance U.S. individual and corporate taxpayers worldwide who have tax reporting failures in prior years, whether intentional or accidental.
  • Participating in corporate internal investigations of tax and finance-related matters.
  • Handling tax shelter matters, including criminal and civil penalty examinations of tax shelter promoters and professionals.
  • Providing sensitive advice on ethical issues to tax practitioners.
  • Advising in non-tax white collar and “inside the Beltway” cases raising sensitive, high-profile issues.

Representative Engagements

  • Resolving cases for a number of banks and other financial services firms during the DOJ’s Program for Swiss Banks and its investigation of offshore tax evasion. These representations usually resulted in non-prosecution agreements between the institution and the DOJ, or no action taken.

  • Acting as criminal tax counsel for a number of U.S. entrepreneurs and business owners in IRS or DOJ tax investigations. Many of these cases resulted in non-public decisions by the U.S. government not to bring criminal charges.
  • Handling sensitive offshore-related audits for businesses, advisors, foreign athletes and high-net-worth families from around the world. A number of these cases were resolved quietly and confidentially for a fraction of the amounts initially sought by the IRS.
  • Managing a large number of voluntary disclosures for families, individuals and companies, where the risk of criminal prosecution was eliminated and the cases resolved often for significant savings in tax and penalty amounts. Many of these recent cases have arisen because of the failure of the U.S. taxpayer to report foreign accounts or other substantial offshore assets. Other cases raise U.S.-centric tax issues where an individual, family or business needed to correct material errors on prior tax returns.
  • Advising tax professionals and professional services firms on sensitive and ethical practice-related issues.

Professional Activities

Mr. Michel is the Vice-Chair for Committee Operations of the American Bar Association Section of Taxation, having previously served as a Section Council Director and as the Chair of the Section's Committee on Civil and Criminal Tax Penalties and the Standards of Tax Practice. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Miami School of Law Graduate Program in Taxation, the Regent for the Federal Circuit for the American College of Tax Counsel, and a member of the International Fiscal Association (IFA) and the International Bar Association (IBA).

Mr. Michel is currently serving as a Mentor in the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, advising government officials responsible for tax enforcement in the Croatian Ministry of Finance. He previously performed a similar role in connection with initiatives in Poland.

He is also a co-founder and Director of Buildable Hours, Inc., a Washington, D.C., nonprofit group that coordinates contributions and volunteer activities between law firms nationwide and local Habitat for Humanity organizations.

Awards & Rankings

  • Chambers USA, 2009-Present
  • The Legal 500, Recommended 2014-Present; Leading Lawyer, 2010-2013, 2017
  • The Legal 500, Top-Tier Firm, Tax - US Taxes - Contentious, 2010, 2015-Present
  • Best Lawyers in America, 2006-Present
  • Super Lawyers, Top 100 in D.C., 2015; Washington, D.C., 2007-Present
  • The American Lawyer's Global Legal Award, Global Dispute of the Year: Investigations, Swiss Tax Settlements, 2015
  • The Washingtonian, Top Lawyers, 2011-2012, 2015
  • The Washington Post, Top Attorneys in D.C., 2014
  • Martindale-Hubbell® AV® Preeminent™

Recent News

Mr. Michel has been quoted extensively in the media, including by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Bloomberg, The Miami Herald, FoxNews, ABC News, and press outlets in Switzerland, France, Germany and the UK. Recent media coverage includes:

Click here for a full list of media coverage.

Recent Speaking Engagements

In his 36 years of practice, Mr. Michel has appeared multiple times throughout the world as a speaker and panelist on U.S. tax enforcement and controversy issues. Among other engagements, he has addressed the Swiss-American and Korean-American Chambers of Commerce; Joint US-IFA programs in Colombia and Barcelona; the National University of Singapore and the Tax Academy of Singapore; the Vienna University of Economics and Business; Hong Kong University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong; and audiences in Kuwait City and Dubai. He has also testified as an expert on offshore account enforcement before the Standing Committee on Finance of the Canada House of Commons.

In the U.S., Mr. Michel founded and serves as co-chair of the ABA Section of Taxation's Annual International Tax Enforcement and Controversy Conference. He has also appeared at other programs held by the ABA, The Tax Executives Institute (U.S. and foreign branches), The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Virginia, NYU, Tennessee and North Carolina Tax Institutes. Recent presentations include:

  • Chair, 5th Annual International Tax Enforcement and Controversy Conference, American Bar Association Section of Taxation / Tax Executives Institute, October 27, 2017
  • Panelist, From The Experts: IRS Representation Tools, Techniques, and Defensive Strategies—Civil and Criminal Tax Update, NYU 76th Institute on Federal Taxation, October 22, 2017
  • Speaker, Part 2 of 7 Tax Audits and Litigation & Part 2 of 6 International Tax Lunch Series: International Tax Enforcement Update, D.C. Bar, October 11, 2017
  • Speaker, Recent Audit and Controversy Experiences in Colombia and the U.S., USA Branch of International Fiscal Association, August 24, 2017
  • Moderator, International Enforcement: What's Happening Next In The Battle Against Unreported Foreign Assets, 9th Annual Tax Controversy Forum, NYU School of Professional Studies, June 15, 2017
  • Panelist, The Future of U.S. Cross-Border Criminal Tax Enforcement, Cross Border Planning for Private Clients, May 18, 2017
  • U.S. Taxpayers - Why They Can Hide No Longer and What They Can Do Now, Cross Border Planning for the Private Client, May 15, 2017
  • Speaker, Tax Enforcement: Where in the World Is the IRS Now, American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section, 31st Annual National Institute on While Collar Crime, March 8, 2017
  • Speaker, FATCA and Panama Papers as Catalysts to More International Information Sharing, Cambridge Forums, November 11, 2016
  • Speaker, Administration, Penalties and Tax Payer Rights – Power of Tax Authorities and Updates from Key Jurisdictions on New Trends, Developments and Legislative Changes, Cambridge Forums, November 10, 2016
  • Panelist, From The Experts: IRS Representation Tools, Techniques And Defensive Strategies – Civil & Criminal Tax Update, NYU 75th Institute on Federal Taxation, October 23, 2016
  • Speaker, Criminalization of Tax Planning, Including General Audit in Post-BEPS Environments and Practical Strategies for Minimizing Exposure, USA Branch of International Fiscal Association, September 23, 2016
  • Moderator, Turning the Tables: The United States as a Tax Haven Destination, American Bar Association Section of Taxation 2016 May Meeting, May 7, 2016
  • Speaker, The Criminalization of Tax Violations – A Negative Trend, American Bar Association Tax Section, International Fiscal Association-USA & Italy Branch, International Bar Association Tax Committee, and Tax Executives Institute Inc., March 17, 2016
  • Speaker, Comprehensive Tax Enforcement: How The Government Is Using All Its Tools, American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section, 30th Annual National Institute on While Collar Crime, March 2, 2016
  • Moderator, Offshore: Where in the World is Enforcement Now?, American Bar Association, 32nd Annual National Institute on Criminal Tax Fraud and 5th National Institute on Tax Controversy Conference, December 10, 2015
  • Panelist, From the Experts: IRS Representation Tools, Techniques and Defensive Strategies - Civil & Criminal Tax Update, NYU 74th Institute on Federal Taxation, October 25, 2015
  • Chair, 3rd Annual International Tax Enforcement Conference, 3rd Annual International Tax Enforcement Conference, October 16, 2015
  • Moderator, Q&A with Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice Tax Division, 3rd Annual International Tax Enforcement Conference, October 16, 2015
  • Speaker, Ethics: Fixing Common Tax Problems, American Law Institute Continuing Legal Education (ALI CLE), Handling a Tax Controversy 2015: Current Trends in Civil Tax Controversies and Litigation, October 8, 2015
  • The Making of Tax Policy in the U.S., The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Centre for Financial Regulation and Economic Development (CFRED), Tax Law Seminar, September 9, 2015
  • Moderator, Offshore Enforcement 2015: Recent Developments and Hot Topics, Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered, September 1, 2015
  • Speaker, Tax Enforcement and the Practitioner, 2015 State Bar of Texas Tax Section Annual Meeting, June 19, 2015
  • Chair, 7th Annual Tax Controversy Forum, New York University School of Professional Studies, June 5, 2015
  • Presenter, Answering Your Civil and Criminal Offshore Disclosure Questions, American Bar Association, Webinar, February 24, 2015
  • Speaker, When the Company is the Target: Ethical and Other Issues, American Bar Association, 31st Annual National Institute on Criminal Tax Fraud & 4th Annual National Institute on Tax Controversy, December 11, 2014
  • Panelist, Offshore Enforcement 2014: Recent Developments and Hot Topics, Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered, October 13, 2014
  • Speaker, Offshore Compliance Update, STEP Los Angeles July Presentation and Working Lunch Meeting, July 10, 2014
  • Moderator, U.S. Global Tax Enforcement Priorities, American Bar Association, June 24, 2014
  • Moderator, The Offshore Voluntary Program: To Participate or Not Participate, That Is the Question, New York University School of Professioanl Studies, 6th Annual Tax Controversy Forum, June 20, 2014
  • Chair, Transparency Comes to Tax Enforcement, American Bar Association, International Tax Enforcement Conference, March 18, 2014
  • Chair, Ethical Issues Facing Tax Practitioners, American Law Institute (ALI) CLE, Hot Topics for Accountants & Tax Lawyers: Tax Returns, Advice, & Examination, December 16, 2013
  • Scott Michel to Moderate Panel at ABA Criminal Tax Fraud and Tax Controversy Conference, December 12, 2013
  • Scott Michel to Speak at University of Texas Annual Taxation Conference, December 4, 2013
  • Speaker, From the Experts: Tax Controversy and Tax Litigation Update, New York University, 72nd Institute on Federal Taxation, November 17, 2013
  • Speaker, From the Experts: Tax Controversy and Tax Litigation Update, New York University, 72nd Institute on Federal Taxation, October 20, 2013
  • Speaker, Developments in Offshore Tax Compliance (Practitioner View), American Law Institute (ALI) CLE, International Trust and Estate Planning, October 11, 2013
  • Speaker, Other FATCA Issues: IGAs, Participating FFI Agreements; Sponsored FFI Agreements, Form 8938; FBAR, American Law Institute (ALI) CLE, International Trust and Estate Planning, October 11, 2013
  • Scott Michel to Speak at Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce Panel Meeting, September 26, 2013
  • Scott Michel and David Rosenbloom to Speak at IFA Copenhagen 2013, August 26, 2013
  • Scott Michel to Speak at FATCA Seminar in Kuwait City, June 17, 2013
  • Chair, Enforcement & Criminal Tax Panel, Federal Bar Association, 37th Annual Tax Law Conference, March 1, 2013
  • Scott Michel to Speak at ABA Criminal Tax Fraud and Tax Controversy 2012 Meeting, December 7, 2012
  • Panelist, From the Experts: Tax Controversy and Tax Litigation Update, New York University, 71st Institute on Federal Taxation, November 11, 2012
  • Scott D. Michel & H. David Rosenbloom to Speak at ABA Section of Taxation's Conference on International Tax Enforcement, November 8, 2012
  • Scott Michel to Speak at Tulane Tax Institute, October 31, 2012
  • Scott Michel to Speak at UCLA Extension 2012 Annual Tax Controversy Institute, October 17, 2012
  • Speaker, Developments in Offshore Tax Compliance (Practitioner View), American Law Institute (ALI) CLE, 2012 International Trust and Estate Planning Course, August 24, 2012
  • Scott Michel to Speak at the NYU 4th Annual Tax Controversy Forum, June 15, 2012
  • Speaker, The Ethical Framework - Duties of the Tax Practitioner to the Client and to the System, University of Virginia Tax Foundation, 64th Annual Conference on Federal Taxation, June 7, 2012
  • Speaker, Sensitive Issue Examinations, American Institute of CPAs, Small Business Tax Practitioners Conference and AICPA Conference on Tax Controversy, May 3, 2012
  • Speaker, Ask Tax Controversy Experts, American Institute of CPAs, Small Business Tax Practitioners Conference and AICPA Conference on Tax Controversy, May 3, 2012
  • Panelist, Civil and Criminal Tax Enforcement: What Can We Expect from the IRS?, J. Nelson Young Tax Institute, April 26, 2012
  • Moderator, Foreign Assets: From Voluntary Disclosure to FATCA, 28th Annual National Institute on Criminal Tax Fraud and the First National Institute on Tax Controversy, March 2, 2012
  • Scott Michel and Christopher Rizek to Speak at the Federal Bar Association's 36th Annual Tax Law Conference, March 2, 2012
  • Panelist, Ethical Issues in International Tax Practice, The George Washington University Law School, 24th Annual Institute on Current Issues in International Taxation, December 15, 2011
  • Panelist, From the Experts: Tax Controversy and Tax Litigation Update, New York University, 70th Institute on Federal Taxation, November 15, 2011
  • Panelist, A Walk on the Wild Side - IRS Examination of Foreign Account Holders Who Did Not Participate in or Opted out of the Voluntary Disclosure Intitiatives, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Extension, 27th Annual Tax Controversy Institute, October 25, 2011
  • Moderator, IRS Criminal Investigation Update and Voluntary Disclosures: Still Possible?, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Extension, 27th Annual Tax Controversy Institute, October 25, 2011
  • Panelist, FBAR for the Fiduciary, DC Bar Tax Section, Estate Planning Committee, October 18, 2011
  • Speaker, Recent Developments, IRS National Tax Forum, August 30, 2011
  • Speaker, Developments in Offshore Tax Compliance (Practitioner View), American Law Institute (ALI) CLE, American Bar Association, 14th Annual Advanced Course of Study for Counselors to Foreign and U.S. Clients, August 19, 2011
  • Chair, Standards of Tax Practice Committee, American Bar Association, 2011 Midyear Meeting, January 21, 2011
  • Panelist, Ethical Issues in International Tax Practice, George Washington University & The Internal Revenue Service, 23rd Annual Institute on Current Issues in International Taxation, December 10, 2010
  • Panelist, Obtaining and Use of Foreign Evidence at Trial, American Bar Association, 27th Annual National Institute on Criminal Tax Fraud, December 2, 2010
  • Moderator, The Quiet Revolution - FATCA and Bank Secrecy, American Bar Association, 2010 Joint Fall CLE Meeting, September 25, 2010
  • Chair, Standards of Tax Practice, American Bar Association, 2010 Joint Fall CLE Meeting, September 24, 2010
  • Speaker, Developments in Offshore Tax Compliance (Practioner View), American Law Institute (ALI) CLE and American Bar Association, 13th Annual Advanced ALI-ABA Course of Study for Counselors to Foreign and U.S. Clients, August 20, 2010
  • 13th Annual Advanced ALI-ABA Course of Study for Counselors to Foreign and U.S. Clients, August 19, 2010
  • International Tax Issues Facing U.S. Taxpayers With Foreign Accounts and Their Financial Institutions, March 18, 2010
  • Panelist, Emerging Ethical Issues in Whistleblower Claims, American Bar Association, 2010 Midyear Meeting, January 22, 2010
  • Panelist, Emerging Issues in Whistleblower Claims, American Bar Association, 2010 Midyear Meeting, January 22, 2010
  • Chair, Standards of Tax Practice Committee, American Bar Association, 2010 Midyear Meeting, January 22, 2010
  • Speaker, Criminal Tax Fraud, American Bar Association, 26th Annual National Institute on Criminal Tax Fraud, December 3, 2009
  • Brave New World of Tax Enforcement: UBS, International and Corporate Criminal Tax Issues, November 13, 2009
  • Voluntary Disclosures: Still Possible After UBS?, October 27, 2009
  • Undeclared Foreign Accounts, Trusts and Estates: Implications of IRS Enforcement Actions, July 16, 2009

Click here for a full list of speaking engagements.

Recent Publications

Mr. Michel has written extensively on topics relating to criminal tax enforcement. His more recent articles include:

Click here for a full list of publications.