Alexander J. Szilvas

Partner

Cleveland
T +1.216.861.7883
F +1.216.696.0740

Overview

Alex Szilvas is a tax partner who has practiced law at BakerHostetler for more than 27 years. He has significant experience dealing with the tax aspects of real property transactions and is co-chair of the firm's Tax Credit Finance and Economic Development Incentives team. Alex advises regularly on the tax considerations and structuring of transactions involving real estate, as well as on partnerships and other legal entities that own, operate, develop, lease and manage real estate. He works extensively in the areas of tax planning and structuring for projects seeking to utilize federal and state tax credits, especially historic tax credits and new markets tax credits, and other nontraditional funding sources. He assists a wide range of clients with their tax planning, from major public corporations to closely held developers and other businesses and their owners to investors and nonprofit organizations.

Alex is a frequent speaker on tax-related topics at numerous accredited continuing legal education (CLE) programs, including national conferences on historic and new markets tax credits. He also has spoken on a variety of tax subjects at the Cleveland Tax Institute, the Ohio State Bar Association Annual Convention and the Ohio CLE Institute. Alex is a past chairman of the Cleveland Tax Institute and he is the current president of the Tax Club of Cleveland, which is the premier tax industry association in northeast Ohio whose membership is composed of leading legal, accounting and corporate tax practitioners in the area. Alex also has published outlines and articles on various tax topics, such as an article that he co-authored on like-kind exchanges under Internal Revenue Code Section 1031, which was featured in the prestigious national BNA Daily Tax Report.

Select Experience

Real Estate Tax Credit Financing Transactions

  • Has done significant work involving the tax planning, structuring and financing of projects utilizing federal and state tax credits throughout the United States, especially historic tax credits and new markets tax credits, with particular experience advising on sophisticated joint ventures and leasing arrangements in the context of facilitating project financing and achieving tax efficiencies.
Real Estate Section 1031 Transactions
  • Has worked extensively in the area of tax-free like-kind exchanges of real estate under Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code, including complex planning under the deferred exchange, multiple property exchange and reverse exchange rules, as well as in the areas of tenancy in common structuring and installment sale transactions. 
Real Estate Tax Planning and Structuring
  • Has substantial experience in advising on the tax planning and structuring of acquisitions, dispositions, mergers, split-ups, financings, refinancings, leases, exchanges and other transactions involving real property.
Tax Controversy
  • Has significant experience in tax controversy work and the successful resolution of such matters. Has represented clients in a variety of tax controversies in the federal court system, as well as at the IRS audit and appeals levels. These cases have involved many diverse substantive areas of tax law, including debt/equity classification, employee/independent contractor characterization, amortization of intangible assets and accumulated earnings tax application.
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Experience

Real Estate Tax Credit Financing Transactions
  • Has done significant work involving the tax planning, structuring and financing of projects utilizing federal and state tax credits throughout the United States, especially historic tax credits and new markets tax credits, with particular experience advising on sophisticated joint ventures and leasing arrangements in the context of facilitating project financing and achieving tax efficiencies.
  • Advises on strategies and structures for facilitating these financing transactions while optimizing the tax results. Structures frequently involve the monetization of tax credits and the participation of tax credit investors, as well as the involvement of other governmental subsidies, and the integration of these along with various additional sources of funding in the capital stack for a given project.
  • Has counseled on projects involving the renovation and restoration of landmark structures all across the country, including historic theaters, hotels, office buildings and facilities of higher education. Many of these have utilized combinations of federal and state historic tax credits, new markets tax credits and other subsidies.
Real Estate Section 1031 Transactions
  • Has worked extensively in the area of tax-free like-kind exchanges of real estate under Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code, including complex planning under the deferred exchange, multiple property exchange and reverse exchange rules, as well as in the areas of tenancy in common structuring and installment sale transactions. 
  • Representative experience includes serving as developers' tax counsel and advising on the successful completion of like-kind exchange transactions involving well more than a billion dollars of real estate. Deals have included many high-profile transactions across the country involving properties such as well-renowned high-rise buildings in New York City and regional shopping malls in California and throughout the country, as well as large office buildings, hotels and apartment communities nationwide. 
Real Estate Tax Planning and Structuring
  • Has substantial experience in advising on the tax planning and structuring of acquisitions, dispositions, mergers, split-ups, financings, refinancings, leases, exchanges and other transactions involving real property.
  • Has performed sophisticated tax and personal planning in other areas for developers, closely held business owners and real estate professionals, especially in areas relating to tax-preferred forms of ownership for holding assets, tax-advantaged operating structures and wealth transfer transactions.
  • Has assisted clients in realizing considerable tax savings in the context of loan restructurings, workouts and debt modifications.
Tax Controversy
  • Has significant experience in tax controversy work and the successful resolution of such matters. Has represented clients in a variety of tax controversies in the federal court system, as well as at the IRS audit and appeals levels. These cases have involved many diverse substantive areas of tax law, including debt/equity classification, employee/independent contractor characterization, amortization of intangible assets and accumulated earnings tax application.
  • Was part of the BakerHostetler Tax Litigation team that won a significant decision in the United States District Court regarding the status of a class of salespersons as independent contractors rather than as employees. This case, Cleveland Institute of Electronics, Inc. v. U.S., is still the leading case decided under Section 3508 of the Internal Revenue Code dealing with the tax treatment of real estate agents and direct sellers.

Recognitions and Memberships

Recognitions

  • The Best Lawyers in America© (2012 to 2018)
    • Cleveland: Tax Law 
      • Best Lawyers® 2016 "Lawyer of the Year"

Emerging Issues

Admissions

  • U.S. Tax Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio
  • Ohio, 1987

Education

  • J.D., Georgetown University Law Center, 1987, cum laude
  • B.B.A., Accounting, University of Notre Dame, 1984, high honors