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Jay R. Nanavati

Jay R. Nanavati




Washington, D.C.
T: 202.875.8000
F: 212.808.8108

Jay Nanavati is a criminal tax defense attorney and a fellow of both the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American College of Tax Counsel. According to Chambers USA, which has ranked him nationally for the last seven years, Jay “is held in high regard for his strength in handling criminal tax matters . . . . He is an excellent trial attorney, he’s very sophisticated. His judgment is excellent.”

Jay represents individuals and entities facing investigations and prosecutions by the IRS, the FBI, state investigative agencies, U.S. Attorney’s offices, and the Department of Justice Tax Division. His clients rely on his ability to analyze cases from the government’s perspective and trust his sound judgment to guide them through their most difficult challenges.

Jay has defended clients against federal investigations and charges throughout the country. He regularly handles matters involving allegations of offshore tax evasion, employment tax violations, cryptocurrency reporting violations, use of shell companies, currency reporting violations, and underreporting of business income. He also has substantial experience representing clients accused of promoting or participating in so-called tax shelters, including captive insurance programs, conservation easements, and Puerto Rico’s Act 20/Act 22 program. In many instances, Jay represents tax professionals facing such accusations.

Jay spent more than a decade as both a federal and a state prosecutor. At the Department of Justice’s Tax Division, he supervised more than 30 federal tax prosecutors and oversaw criminal tax enforcement for a region covering 22 states. He investigated and prosecuted, among many other tax offenses, an e-commerce tax fraud scheme, a thoroughbred race horse tax fraud scheme, an abusive trust scheme, and numerous individuals and businesses engaged in tax evasion. In addition to the cases that he prosecuted, he was also responsible for reviewing and authorizing criminal tax grand jury investigations and prosecutions in the various U.S. Attorney’s Offices in his 22-state region. He is a veteran trial lawyer, having conducted dozens of jury trials and hundreds of bench trials.

Jay is a member of the ABA’s Section of Taxation, Civil and Criminal Tax Penalties Committee, as well as of the ABA’s Criminal Justice Section, White Collar Crime Committee, and a member of the Edward Bennett Williams Inn of Court.

From 2013 to 2016, Jay assisted the White House Office of Presidential Personnel in a pro bono capacity by vetting potential presidential appointees for possible tax-related problems.

J.D., University of Virginia School of Law, 1999, Order of the Coif, Virginia Law Review

B.A., Government and Foreign Affairs, University of Virginia, 1996, high honors, Phi Beta Kappa, Echols Scholar

District of Columbia


U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

U.S. Tax Court

  • Represented Paul J. Manafort in prosecution by the U.S. Office of the Special Counsel in United States v. Paul J. Manafort, on charges involving allegations of the use of offshore bank accounts to commit tax fraud.
  • Achieved a rare acquittal for a business owner in a federal tax fraud conspiracy jury trial after four weeks of government evidence and 117 government witnesses. The government was represented by a team of three attorneys from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice Tax Division.
  • Obtained dismissal before trial of all 53 counts of federal mail fraud, money laundering, conspiracy, and criminal forfeiture, in a case that the FBI, IRS-CI, and the U.S. Attorney’s office had spent five years investigating and prosecuting.
  • Represented a multinational financial institution facing a federal grand jury investigation for allegedly assisting U.S. taxpayers in evading their U.S. tax obligations.
  • Persuaded IRS-CI to terminate an investigation of the owner of a tax return preparation business for allegedly preparing false tax returns.
  • Persuaded a U.S. Attorney’s office to terminate an investigation of a business owner who failed to report large amounts of income. During the subsequent IRS audit of the client, persuaded the IRS to drop civil fraud penalties.
  • Avoided criminal prosecution and substantial civil tax penalties for a U.S. expatriate residing in Europe. The IRS’s audit related to the client’s use of a Panama foundation, a Seychelles international business company, and a Cyprus bank account.
  • Persuaded a U.S. Attorney’s office to cease a grand jury investigation of a client whose name was one of the first that UBS turned over to the Department of Justice in 2009 pursuant to its landmark deferred prosecution agreement. During the subsequent IRS audit of the client, persuaded the IRS not to pursue substantial “FBAR” and fraud penalties.
  • Represented a businessman facing a federal grand jury investigation for the felonies of tax evasion and structuring cash transactions. Persuaded the U.S. Attorney’s office to abandon the felony charges and bring only a single charge of misdemeanor failure to file a tax return.
  • Represented the owner of a healthcare company who was indicted by state authorities for multiple felonies arising from an alleged failure to pay employment taxes. Negotiated the reduction of felony charges to misdemeanor charges.
  • Persuaded a U.S. Attorney’s office not to indict a client, a CPA who was suspected of structuring currency transactions to evade the requirement to file with the IRS Form 8300, Report of Cash Payments Over $10,000 Received in a Trade or Business.
  • Department of Justice Tax Division
    • Assistant Chief for the Western Criminal Enforcement Section
    • Counsel to the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Criminal Matters
    • Trial Attorney
  • Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for Fairfax County, Virginia
  • Law Clerk for Chief Judge Hector M. Laffitte of the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico
  • American Bar Association Section of Taxation
    • Civil and Criminal Tax Penalties Committee
  • American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section
    • White Collar Crime Committee
  • American College of Trial Lawyers
    • Fellow
    • District of Columbia State Committee
  • American College of Tax Counsel
    • Fellow
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Federal Bar Association: Taxation Section, Criminal Law Section
  • Community Tax Law Project
    • Board Member
  • Edward Bennett Williams Inn of Court
    • Barrister
  • Global Tax Enforcement In 2016: What You Need to Know, Law360 (January 6, 2016)
  • The IRS Turns Up the Heat on Hedge Fund-Backed Reinsurance, JD Supra (June 10, 2015)
  • DOJ And IRS Use “Carrot ‘n Stick” To Enforce Global Tax Laws, American Bar Association (Summer 2014)
  • The 2013 U.S. Department of Justice Program for Swiss Banks – No Easy Choices, Journal of Taxation and Regulation of Financial Institutions (January/February 2014)
  • FCPA and FATCA: The Odd Couple of Anti-Corruption, Tax Notes (2013)
  • Compete or Enforce, Business Crimes Bulletin (2013)
  • Why Holders of Foreign Bank Accounts Need to Worry About IRS’s Voluntary Disclosure Data-Mining Program, Bloomberg BNA Daily Tax Report (August 28, 2012)
There are no upcoming events.

Puerto Rico Tax Strategies: Acts 20/22/60 (CPE)

November 14, 2023 @ 3:15 pm - 4:00 pm EST

Not Just Asking: IRS Audits in Theory and Practice

November 7, 2023 @ 12:45 pm - 2:25 pm EST
  • Panelist, Technology in Tax Enforcement, 43rd Annual Tax Law Conference, Washington, D.C., March 2019
  • Speaker, Global Tax Enforcement: Compliance and Risk Mitigation (Part II), Bahamas Financial Services Board, Nassau, Bahamas, November 2018
  • Panelist, Global Tax Enforcement: Compliance & Risk Mitigation, Bahamas Financial Services Board and Association of International Banks & Trust Companies, Nassau, Bahamas, November 2017
  • Moderator, Civil and Criminal International Tax Enforcement Update, Paramus, New Jersey, June 2017
  • Panelist, Nuts and Bolts of Criminal Tax, ABA Tax Section Mid-Year Meeting, Orlando, Florida, January 2017
  • Panelist, Top Tips for Criminal Tax Cases, ABA Criminal Tax Fraud and Tax Controversy Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada, December 2016
  • Panelist, The United States as a Potential Tax Haven: Foreign Assets and Potential Money Laundering Exposures for Lawyers and Other Gatekeepers, White Collar Practice Seminar, Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 2016
  • Speaker, Civil and Criminal Enforcement of Employment Tax Laws, Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants, Richmond, Virginia, September 2016
  • Speaker, The Role of Legal Privileges in Sensitive IRS Examinations, Virginia Society of Enrolled Agents, Richmond, Virginia, August 2016
  • Speaker, Global Tax Enforcement in 2015, Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants, Richmond, Virginia, December 2015
  • Panelist, Disclosure In a Criminal Prosecution: Are You Getting What You Should Have?, ABA Tax Section’s National Institute on Criminal Tax Fraud & Tax Controversy, Las Vegas, Nevada, December 2015
  • Moderator, Foreign Bank Accounts and “Black Money” – Recent Legal Developments in the U.S. and India on Foreign Account Tax Compliance (FATCA), Corruption, and Offshore Accounts, U.S. India Business Council, Washington, D.C., June 2015
  • Panelist, The U.S. Government’s Global Crackdown on Tax Evasion: Where It Has Been and Where It Is Going, Orlando, Florida, June 2015
Jay Nanavati - American College of Trial Lawyers
Best Lawyers - Kostelanetz LLP 2024
Jay Nanavati - Best Lawyers 2023
Jay Nanvati - Chambers 2023
Jay Nanavati - Chambers 2022
Jay Nanavati - Chambers 2021
Jay Nanavati - Chambers 2020
Jay Nanavati - Chambers 2019
Jay Nanavati - Chambers 2018
Jay Nanavati - Super Lawyers 2022
Jay Nanavati - Super Lawyers 2021
Jay Nanavati - Super Lawyers
Jay Nanavati - Super Lawyers 2023
  • American College of Tax Counsel: Fellow
  • American College of Trial Lawyers
    • Fellow
    • District of Columbia State Committee
  • Best Lawyers: Criminal Defense: White Collar (2022)
  • Super Lawyers, Top Rated White Collar Crime Attorney in Washington, DC (2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023)
  • Chambers USA: Nationwide Tax Fraud (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023)
  • Martindale-Hubbell: AV Preeminent
  • Department of Justice Tax Division
    • Outstanding Attorney Award (2009, 2010)
    • Special Commendation Award (2008)
    • Special Act or Service Award (2007)
  • Edward Bennett Williams Inn of Court: Barrister