Paul Sokolowski is a specialist tax lawyer, and has been a partner of Arnold Bloch Leibler since 2001. Paul is the national practice leader of the firm’s taxation practice.
“He has a high level of attention to detail, a strong client focus and impressive ability to discern quickly what clients want to achieve.”
Paul advises a range of clients, including (ultra) high-net-worth individuals, large private groups, public entities and not-for-profits, on Federal tax issues in reviews, audits and disputes, and in domestic and international transactions. With many years' experience in taxation law and administration, Paul has an enviable reputation for representing his clients with dedication, passion and understanding and providing technically astute, strategic, commercially sound and understandable taxation advice.
Prior to joining Arnold Bloch Leibler, Paul held various positions with the ATO, the last of which was as a senior officer, in what is now the Public Groups and International division, of the Tax Office.
Paul is recognised in the area of taxation in a number of prominent international guides to law firms. He is ranked among the leading taxation lawyers in Australia by Chambers Asia Pacific where he is recognised by clients as an “outstanding tax practitioner”. The Legal 500 Asia Pacific has noted that he is “highly regarded for his 'technical strength' and 'commercial approach'”. Paul has been highlighted in successive editions of the Tax Directors Handbook, commenting that his “high technical standards are well balanced by his general commercial acumen”. For a number of years, Paul has been ranked by Doyle’s Guide as ‘pre-eminent’ in the category of ‘Leading Tax Lawyers – Victoria,’ and in the 2020 edition was ranked as the ‘Market Leader’. Also, Paul has been listed in successive editions of Best Lawyers® International, and in the 2020/21 edition he was recognised as ‘Lawyer of the Year – Tax Law’.
Paul won the prestigious “Chartered Tax Adviser of the Year” award at the 2019 Tax Institute's Tax Adviser of the Year Awards (and was also a finalist in 2018). The award recognises a tax professional who has demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit, strategic business expertise and innovative ideas. He was also named ‘Tax Partner of the Year’ in the 2018 Lawyers Weekly Australian Law Awards.
Paul is a sought after writer and speaker on tax issues, having written for tax publications and presented papers at conferences and seminars for tax professionals, and at in-house tax and GST seminars for clients, accounting firms and umbrella organisations. He has taught the Taxation of Trusts for Monash University’s Masters of Law program, and also makes representations to Government and the Tax Office on income tax and GST policy, legislation and rulings.
Paul holds a Bachelor of Commerce from The University of Melbourne and a Bachelor of Laws with first class honours from Deakin University, where he was awarded the Supreme Court Prize.
- audits and reviews: advising clients on, and managing, all stages of Tax Office audits and reviews of clients’ income tax and GST affairs (mainly in relation to large business and (ultra) high wealth individual audits), negotiating resolutions of the outcomes of the audits and reviews and appearing before the ATO’s General Anti-Avoidance Rules Panel;
- income tax advice: advising on the operation of, and the Tax Office’s practice in applying, income (and capital gains) tax laws to domestic and international transactions, and corporate and family group restructuring, including the implications of recent legislative and ATO policy initiatives;
GST advice: advising on the GST implications of transactions and dealings, in particular: investment in, and development of, property; non-resident entities investing in, or supplying, goods and services to Australia; Australian residents investing in, or providing, goods and services offshore; restructuring or sale of businesses; and settlements and litigation of disputes;
tax risk management: assessing and advising on tax risks and how those risks can be managed;
voluntary disclosures: advising and managing disclosures to the Tax Office on international and domestic matters;
income tax and GST rulings: advising on, and obtaining, private rulings from the ATO in relation to income tax and GST matters; and
alternative dispute resolution and litigation: resolving disputes with the ATO with respect to tax and administrative issues.
“He would be my first port of call for tax advice in the legal field.”
Directorships & memberships
- the Tax Institute, in which he is a Chartered Tax Adviser;
- the Tax Institute’s Dispute Resolution Committee;
- the Taxation Committee of the Business Law Section of the Law Council of Australia;
- the Australian Taxation Office's Private Groups Stewardship Group;
- the Australian Taxation Office's Dispute Resolution Working Group (for the Law Council);
- various ad hoc Taxation Office professional consultation groups;
- the International Fiscal Association, and he is the Secretary, and a member of the Executive Committee, of the Australian Branch of IFA; and
- two tax discussions groups, comprising eminent tax professionals, one of which he chairs.
Paul is a member of the Deakin Law School Advisory Board.
Paul has advised and assisted domestic and international clients on a broad range of taxation matters. Paul, and his teams’, recent experiences includes:
- Ongoing significant and complex tax audits concerning international and domestic transactions, involving: litigation on substantive tax issues and the Tax Office’s administrative powers; transfer pricing issues; the invoking of Mutual Assistance Procedures under a Double Tax Agreement; representations to, and appearances before, the Tax Office’s General Anti-avoidance Rules Panel on Part IVA issues; and settlements of significant and long-running audits and disputes;
- CrownBet’s founders: taxation issues in relation to a series of milestone transactions, including the sale of an 18 per cent stake of CrownBet to Canadian listed company, The Stars Group, Inc.
- Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation: taxation aspects of its acquisition of the Krispy Kreme Australia and New Zealand franchise business from its founding shareholders;
- Cyberinc: on the taxation aspects of the sale of Silicon Valley based client’s Identity and Access Management business to KPMG;
- Litigation in the High Court of Australia and the Federal Court of Australia on substantive tax disputes;
- A large private group: tax aspects of a rationalisation and restructuring of financing arrangements in a complex group of companies and trusts;
- The deed administrators of Arrium Australia: taxation aspects of the successful competitive sale process out of a complex insolvency process; and
- Various not-for-profit clients: in relation to applications for income tax exempt and deductible gift recipient status.