Our Spotlight series sheds light on the careers and lives of tax professionals around the world. This week, Spotlight on Caroline Cao, partner at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, LLP in Sacramento, California.
As a transactional lawyer, Cao’s job is to help clients resolve complex tax issues and bring in tax experts when needed, particularly when it comes to mergers and acquisitions. She has advised a variety of private and public companies on IPOs, strategic partnerships and joint ventures and a range of clients on property investments and disposal, mixed-use development projects, construction, financing, rental and property management.
Outside of work, Cao, a nature lover, says she enjoys hiking and boating with her family, which includes an “adorable” Australian labradoodle.
What is your official title and what does it mean? Partner. Being a partner in the firm has privileges as well as responsibilities. You are not only expected to be a good lawyer, but also a team player who brings positive synergy and resources to the firm.
Free time: book, audiobook or podcast? I love reading a good book on vacation, but on a daily basis, podcasts work better for catching up on topics that interest me.
Taxation is a big subject. What is your particular area of interest? My legal practices in the areas of securities, cross-border transactions and real estate often encounter complex tax-related issues. In some acquisitions, it is imperative to try to structure the transaction as a qualifying “reorganization” transaction within the meaning of Section 368(a) of the Tax Code 1986 to ensure its tax-free treatment. If the client is a public company, the legal issues are even more complex. It is important to obtain a satisfactory tax opinion on the proposed transaction before proceeding to avoid any legal ramifications or negative tax consequences. When you engage in certain California real estate transactions, for example, often for investment or family trust planning purposes, you should consider whether the transaction can be structured in such a way that it does not trigger reassessment and additional assessment for the property. ‘property tax. In other words, you need the right structure and proper documentation to show that the transfer of real estate ownership is not a reassessable event under Proposition 13.
What is the last movie or show you watched and liked (DVD, Netflix or at the cinema)? “House of the Dragon”. It’s a prequel to “Game of Thrones”. It takes you out of the real world for a moment, and the characters are developed so dramatically with great depth.
What college did you attend and what did you study? Before earning my LL.M. at the University of Wisconsin Law School, I attended the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, majoring in international economic law. I also obtained my certification in European competition law at Oriel College, University of Oxford in England.
Pick up: Coffee or tea? Definitely coffee – lots of coffee. I blame/attribute this to my early days as a young lawyer living in New York. The delicious, inexpensive coffee served in those famous Greek coffee cups from coffee carts around the corner is the best.
What is the best tax or financial advice someone has ever given you? An early tax mentor once told me, “Before you do a big deal (or any deal really), fix the tax issues first – you’ll thank me later.” And he was right about that!
If you weren’t in the tax field, what would your dream job be? I’ve always found the idea of being a journalist, covering international affairs, with the added privilege of traveling the world and meeting people with interesting stories fascinating.
If you had the option of making one change in the tax world — an extra credit, a disallowed deduction, whatever — what would it be? It’s quite a long list, but on the one hand, it would probably be an update to the mortgage interest deduction. I don’t think the current setup serves the original legislative purpose well, which is to encourage home ownership for Americans.
Favorite food, snack or treat during tax time or another busy time? Chocolate croissant and/or cheesecake. Am I allowed to have two favourites?
What tax news or ruling has had the most impact on your practice or clients in the past year? The passing of the Inflation Reduction Act will be a game-changer and will have a huge impact not only for domestic businesses but also for international organizations. According to Bloomberg, global investments in the energy transition exceeded $750 billion last year, with China in second place. This will really move things forward in terms of how international clients build their cross-border investment strategies.
If you got a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it? Book our next family vacation, probably somewhere tropical. Some of the most treasured memories we had were of laughing and relaxing together by the beach.
You can find out more about Cao on LinkedIn.
You can read more about Cao’s law firm, Lewis Brisbois, on its website.
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