Biography

Karen Gilbreath Sowell is a principal in Ernst & Young LLP’s National Tax Department. Based in Washington, D.C., Karen serves as a co-leader of the Mergers and Acquisitions group. A partner since 2001, Karen has advised the firm’s most significant clients on complex transactions, and leads the firm’s practice involving corporate spin-off transactions.

Karen was the US Treasury’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy from July 2007 to January 2009. She worked closely with the leadership of the Treasury Department during the financial crisis. She participated in the legislative process for the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 and the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA) of 2008, and played a leadership role in the expedited issuance of important guidance projects directed at economic stabilization. She was co-leader of the Treasury Department’s promulgation of standards for the executive compensation requirements of EESA. She received the Treasury Distinguished Service Award in recognition of her contributions.

Among her other duties as Treasury’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy, Karen worked closely with the Internal Revenue Service to issue a substantial amount of significant regulations, revenue rulings, revenue procedures, notices and other guidance. 

Karen first served at the Treasury Department from 1997 to 2001, where she was Associate Tax Legislative Counsel. She was primarily responsible for matters relating to corporate taxation in a period of prolific guidance, including regulations and other guidance governing spin-off transactions, taxable transactions, and the check-the box regime. 

Karen is the First Vice Chair of the Executive Committee of the Tax Section of the New York State Bar Association and will be Chair of the organization in 2018. She is a former chair of the Corporations Committee of the Tax Section of the American Bar Association.