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Politics

Vicky Tsilas, Attorney in Vital Tax-Exempt Bonds Field

October 6, 2018

Vassiliki (Vicky) Tsilas, a former U.S. Treasury and IRS official, is currently an equity partner at the DC law firm Ballad Spahr. She is one of America’s foremost legal experts on federal tax issues relating to financing infrastructure with tax-exempt bonds.

The narrow legal field of “tax-exempt bonds” may sound highly specialized and esoteric to the layperson, but it constitutes one of the most critical tools necessary to finance America’s infrastructure.

Approximately 90% of U.S. public infrastructure on the state and local government level is financed by tax-exempt bond loans. Those financings are extremely complex, often involving millions and even billions of dollars. Citizens benefit from tax-exempt bonds, which are used by states and local municipalities to build schools, roads, bridges, airports, sewer and water systems, hospitals, fire stations, mass transit facilities, colleges and universities and most public facilities. Moreover, most tax-exempt bonds are purchased by individuals. In 2018, the largestproportion of state and local government debt is held by individuals, households, mutual fund and money market fund investors. The tax-exempt bond market is a $3.8 trillion market.

In view of the enormity of this critically important legal subspecialty, it is understandable

That the Treasury, IRS, legislators, and law firms place high priority on it. This renders attorneys such as Tsilas highly appreciated.

At the Treasury Department, she served in senior legal positions overseeing tax-exempt bonds at the U.S. Treasury Department, Office of Tax Policy, and the IRS Chief Counsel’s Office.At the IRS, she was Branch Chief of the Tax-Exempt Bond Branch for Financial Institutions and Products in the Chief Counsel’s Office, where she supervised a team of attorneys that provided regulatory and other guidance that responded to taxpayers on matters involving the interpretation and application of tax law. She was also the Chief Counsel representative to an IRS focus group that provided recommendations to IRS agents dealing with complicated tax-exempt bond issues.

Currently a partner at Ballard Spahr, Tsilas focuses on federal tax law, including the taxation of municipal bonds and tax-exempt organizations such as churches, hospitals, schools, and charitable foundations. She represents nonprofit organizations as borrowers and state and local governments as bond counsel in tax-exempt bond financings. She also represents clients in IRS audits of tax-exempt bond financings.

Tsilas earned a JD from Fordham University School of Law and a LLM from Georgetown University. She has clerked at the U.S. Tax Court, has received numerous awards in recognition of her work, and she recently co-authored the 2018 Edition of the book ABC’s of Arbitrage – Tax Rules for Investment of Bond Proceeds of Municipalities.

The mother of two, George Loucas and Penelope, Tsilas is an avid skier and runner. True to her Greek heritage, she has run two marathons.

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