Queen of Taxation
Elizabeth Colagiovanni, RWU Class of 2010Juris DoctorAlumni
Elizabeth Colagiovanni ’10 is a senior associate in International Tax at Kahn, Litwin, Renza & Co. Ltd. Certified Public Accountants, Providence. It’s such a complicated field that it’s easy for high-wealth individuals and corporations investing or working overseas to run afoul of foreign laws – or the I.R.S. That’s when they turn to Liz Colagiovanni, who has developed an expertise in helping über-wealthy clients minimize their tax bite. She may recommend foreign restructuring or an “offshore voluntary disclosure” (OVD), which means contacting the I.R.S. before it discovers undeclared offshore accounts or assets and ladles on heavy fines.
Colagiovanni – who, after completing her J.D. at RWU Law, earned an LL.M. in Taxation from Boston University School of Law – loves the complexity of international tax treaties and foreign law. “The more of a challenge I have, the happier I am,” she says. “With international taxation, there’s always something changing.”
The rich are different from you and me: “One couple had to pay a million dollars because they were so far behind in paying their taxes, but if they hadn’t done an OVD, they’d have lost it all. You get shocked with these high-wealth individuals. I didn’t want to tell them, ‘It’s a $1 million tax liability,’ but they said, ‘Hey, you just saved me 15 or 20 million.’”
The Hollywood years:Before law school, Colagiovanni, a native of Rhode Island with an undergrad degree from RWU, spent six years in California. She got an M.F.A. in Film Industry, then worked for a film company in the accounting department, which fostered her interest in tax law. “That’s when I started learning the business, that you have films that will be losses so you don’t have to pay as much taxes on ones that are winners.”
The horror, the horror: “I was the production accountant for two movies, ‘P.S. I Love You’ and also for ‘One Missed Call,’ a terrible B horror movie where a demon comes through the cell phone,” she says, with a laugh.
Back in the classroom: She’s now teaching online courses for the BU’s LL.M. Graduate Tax Program. “So I’m on my way to my dream of teaching law!”