Sharon Katz-Pearlman is the National Principal-in-Charge of KPMG LLP’s Tax Dispute Resolution practice in the U.S., as well as the Global Head of KPMG International’s Tax Dispute Resolution & Controversy practice, overseeing a network of dispute resolution specialists from KPMG’s member firms around the world. She has practiced in the tax controversy area for over 30 years. Sharon’s client work at KPMG is focused primarily on representation before the IRS of multinational corporate clients and financial institutions, both domestic and international. She spends much of her time dealing with transfer pricing issues and cross-border disputes.
Prior to joining KPMG, Sharon was a Special Litigation Attorney with the IRS Office of Chief Counsel, U.S. Department of the Treasury, where she advised examination and appeals teams and was responsible for the development and litigation of major tax matters before the U.S. Tax Court. While with the IRS, Sharon received the National Attorney of the Year Award (the James Markham Memorial Award), presented annually to one field attorney in the country for outstanding contribution to the Office of the Chief Counsel, as well as several other commendations.
In addition to her client-facing responsibilities at KPMG, Sharon serves and has served in a number of “people focused” roles. Sharon is a founding “mother” of the firm’s Women’s Advisory Board, formed to provide input to KPMG leadership on issues of flexibility and other matters of importance to women and the firm. She is currently the “People Leader” for the New York office’s Tax practice and KPMG’s mentor representative to the “30% Club,” a mentoring initiative which matches senior-level women as mentors to mid-level “rising stars”. As the first woman to be promoted into the firm’s partnership while on a part-time flex schedule, Sharon is a strong and vocal proponent of programs which allow women and men to work with the flexibility they need in order to achieve their career goals and “have a life.” She often says that KPMG’s extraordinary willingness to allow her to work flexibly, enabled and empowered her to achieve career milestones that she never expected.
In 2016, Sharon was appointed Adjunct Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law, where she teaches Civil Tax Controversies & Litigation in the Graduate Tax (LL.M.) Program, from which she graduated after attending the program part-time while working for the IRS Office of Chief Counsel. In late 2017, Sharon was named to the U.N. Tax Subcommittee on the Mutual Agreement Process, Dispute Avoidance and Resolution, where she works with representatives in public and private practice from other countries, on the drafting and preparation of a U.N. Handbook detailing the disputes resolution processes and approaches used globally. Sharon is also a frequent presenter at tax conferences (i.e., American Law Institute, NYU Tax Institute, NYU Tax Controversy Forum, American Bar Association’s Tax Section, International Tax Review, International Fiscal Association, and more) on a variety of issues including IRS developments and initiatives, the global disputes and enforcement landscape and various aspects of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Base Erosion and Profit-Shifting initiative. Globally, she has spoken in a number of countries including China, Singapore, Argentina, Mexico, the U.K., and the Netherlands.
Sharon and her husband are the proud parents of four wonderful children, three of whom are following in Sharon’s Cardozo footsteps. (The “non-Cardozo” child is studying medicine, following in her father’s and grandfather’s footsteps.) Sharon is an active Cardozo alum and last May returned to Lincoln Center to experience Cardozo graduation again, this time as a mother, as she proudly hooded and watched her son graduate. She is looking forward to hooding her two daughters in the coming years. Sharon credits Professor Edward Zelinsky as the force behind the wonderful career she has enjoyed, noting that one of her daughters is currently in Professor Zelinsky’s Income Tax I class, the same class that sparked her interest in the tax law. With no tax or accounting background at all prior to stepping into Professor Zelinsky’s class (Sharon was an urban studies major as an undergrad at Columbia University, and still tells clients that she “doesn’t do math”) she is convinced that if she had not been a “Zelinsky student,” she never would have gone into tax. Not going into tax seems impossible to Sharon now, as she says that she cannot think of a more rewarding and fun career than the one she has.
This is the part of an ongoing series highlighting the accomplishments of Cardozo alumni, an initiative led by the Office of Alumni Affairs and CYAN (the Cardozo Young Alumni Network).
If you would like to nominate an alum to be featured in the CJOA, please email Katie Gillette (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the Office of Alumni Affairs.