Jim Spencer Explains Why Our International Tax Practice is Special

Posted on June 01, 2015

Berkowitz Pollack Brant’s International Tax Practice has more experience and speaks more languages than almost any firm in the southeast US.




Berkowitz Pollack Brant’s international practice is unique in that we focus on pre-immigration planning and that’s a very large portion of our practice. Also, the international practice itself is a large component of the overall tax practice. We serve both outbound and inbound clients. Outbound clients are basically U.S. based companies, multi-national families, doing business outside the U.S. setting up operations outside of the U.S. Equally, we do a lot of work for inbound clients and that’s foreign based companies, or foreign based multi-national families, doing business in the U.S. or setting up operations in the U.S. It’s a very broad perspective of an international tax practice.


What makes us unique in the international tax areas? We have more than fifteen individuals devoted to international tax. In particular, pre-immigration planning and serving outbound and inbound clients. We have a lot of depth in the area. If you add up all of the years of experience we have in the international tax practice, it’s a very large number.


Within our international tax practice, we have a lot of language capabilities. What’s very common in South Florida is Spanish and Portuguese, of course. We also have a Belarusian, Philippine, Creole, African, Taiwanese, Japanese, Hebrew, Italian, Swedish, French and Russian. In addition to the basic languages.


Pre-immigration planning is important because what we can do is before somebody becomes a resident of the United States and subject to U.S. taxation on their worldwide income, they can make some tax planning moves and strategies to position things before they get here in ways that don’t trigger U.S. taxes and set themselves up in the best position.

Pre-immigration tax planning is also important because you can develop a tax planning strategy that allows you to achieve a step up in basis and when you get a step up in basis that allows you to recognize a much smaller gain or appreciation after you come to the United States if you can achieve that step up in basis before you get here.


In the U.S. we’re seeing a lot of influx from Europe in general, the U.K. is as strong as ever. Within the Florida market, Germany, Switzerland – you see a lot of investment and in France. Florida is one of the largest Canadian provenances. We have a lot of Canadians down here. Both French Canadian from Quebec as well as English-speaking Canadians. We have a big influx from Latin America. A lot of Venezuelan investment. In fact, Weston is often referred to as “Westonzuela” – it’s that prevalent. We have a lot of Colombian investment, a lot of Brazilian, a lot of Argentinian. We have our share of Mexican investment as well. I could go on and on but needless to say we have a lot of European influx, a lot of Latin American influx into the U.S. and we have our share of Asia – Pacific influx as well. It’s not as large as the Latin America and the Europe.


In South Florida, starting with Miami and then moving onto Ft. Lauderdale and the Palm Beaches is a true international community. It’s considered the, by many, it’s considered the center of Latin America. It’s considered to be the financial center of Latin America and the Caribbean and it attracts a lot of investment and a lot of transactions that within South Florida because of that. Because of its international importance it’s probably, along with New York, one of the two most important jurisdictions and destinations in the United States.