Taxation vocation: Attorney found niche in tax law field

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A Michigan State alumna, Rosa Weaver earned her juris doctor from the University of Detroit School of Law.


By Sheila Pursglove

Legal News

Rosa Weaver was hooked on federal income taxation from her very first class in law school.

“Every other class I was banging my head against the desk,” she says. “But in every tax class I was like a kid in a candy store – but instead of eating candy, I was learning about the code and it was very exciting and meaningful. 

I mean, everyone pays taxes so why wouldn’t I want to know everything I can about it?”

Weaver has found her calling as a tax attorney at Ayar Law Group in Southfield, where she focuses on tax resolution, in particular foreign bank account disclosures, IRS audit defense, IRS tax settlements and payments plans.

“Dealing with the IRS can be a very scary experience,” she says. “We all know ‘Big Brother’ is watching, but when ‘Big Brother’ takes action, people panic. I enjoy helping people through this process and letting them know I’m here every step of the way and they have nothing to fear.” 

One client was left high and dry with a tax bill well over $300,000.

“His tax preparer took a bunch of shady deductions,” Weaver says.  “I was able to ease his fears and let him know I would not leave him stranded. I got his tax bill down 60 percent.”

Another client was the target of a very aggressive IRS agent.

“The revenue officer was threatening to take away everything the taxpayer owned without any grounds,” Weaver says. “That was when I knew I picked the right side to advocate for – I was able to be the taxpayer’s voice when the taxpayer was scared to speak up because he was being bullied by ‘Big Brother.’ At the end, the taxpayer saved hundreds of thousands of dollars and kept his assets.” 

Before turning to a law career, Weaver spent eight years as a security specialist for the Global Security Department at General Motors, where she investigated white-collar fraud, and counterfeit automotive service parts in the North America and South America regions. 

“Counterfeit parts do more than harm brand reputation, it puts consumers in harm’s way – if one brake pad or oil filter or spark plug fails it could cost you your life. I had a case where a brake pad was sold in what looked like OEM packaging and the outer appearance looked like legit brake pads, but in fact the brake pads were just wood and metal composites – that would fail immediately. Being able to assist in the prosecution by acting as subject matter expert in raids all over the world was a valuable experience because I protected the little guys.” 

According to Weaver, white-collar fraud is mostly about manipulation and abuse of trust and power, but in countries where organized crime is rampant, employees may be placed in positions where they can easily be extorted. In case in Latin America an executive with payroll responsibilities for an entire plant added extra hours to more than 30 employees for a number of years, because he was being extorted by a local drug cartel that threatened his family’s safety. 

“What on its face looked like standard white-collar fraud turned out to be an extortion case and fortunately I was able to get the federal authorities involved to stop it,” she says.

Her original career goal was to become an FBI agent, but she became attracted to international law enforcement after the terror attacks of 9/11 slammed the homeland in her junior year at Michigan State University.

“Like many others, I was completely devastated and wanted to do my part to protect my country,” says Weaver, who earned her bachelor’s degree, with honors, in criminal justice with a specialization in security management, and was a member of the Honor Society. 

“I knew the automotive industry has a heavy global presence and practicing law enforcement privately was the perfect match for me, especially with the new homeland security initiatives that rolled out after 9/11.”
Her career at GM fueled her interest in pursuing a career in law. 

“I was always consulting the legal department in every aspect of my job, whether it was the GM US legal team or its international counterparts,” she explains. “Law became a natural growth transition for me.”

Weaver enjoyed her studies at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law where she gained practical experience in clinics and the law firm program, and was able to walk downtown to all her legal jobs, including an internship with Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Fresard.

Finishing in the top 5 percent of all of her taxation courses, because of her outstanding academic record in tax, she was selected to participate in a study abroad program, sponsored by Stetson University School of Law, where she studied Offshore Tax Havens in the Caribbean. Her studies in the renowned offshore financial center and tax haven of the Cayman Islands expanded her tax knowledge for foreign offshore banking and U.S. tax
consequences.

“I think of it as a bridge for my tax interests and corporate international experience before I decided to practice law,” she says. 

Weaver volunteers with the Wolverine Bar Association Minority Bar Passage Rate Program in the summer, and during the school year serves as a judge for Moot Court Advocacy Competitions around the state, and as a mentor to law students.

“I could not be where I am today without mentors, whether in corporate or in my legal career,” she notes. “Mentors are there to encourage you when you doubt yourself and share their experiences, which is great for development. I enjoy being able share my experience, right and wrong, with law students so they can achieve their goals.”

Originally from Royal Oak, Weaver now lives in Rochester Hills, where her family has made its home for more than 40 years. In her leisure time, she enjoys MSU College sports, biking – especially along the Paint Creek Trail in Oakland County – and travel, with her favorite place to date being Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

“It was very exciting experiencing such a newly developed city and a different culture,” she says.

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