John Balian, M.S. (Taxation), J.D.

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Managing Partner, the Balian Law Group

Professor Balian is an alumnus of the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics at California State University, Northridge. Prior to becoming an attorney, he was a revenue agent with the Los Angeles District of the IRS, where he conducted tax audits of corporations, trusts and individuals, generally focusing on understated income or overstated deductions. He has practiced law since 1993 and is currently the managing partner of the Balian Law Group, a tax and estate planning law firm in Encino, California. Professor Balian is a Certified Specialist in Taxation Law, certified by the Board of Legal Specialization of the California State Bar. His law firm represents clients in IRS audits/appeals and before the U.S. Tax Court, and advises clients on income, estate & gift tax issues. He received both his B.S. in Accounting and M.S. in Taxation degrees from CSUN and his J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law. He is the past chair of the California Society of CPAs Los Angeles Chapter's West Valley CPAs. Professor Balian teaches the Culminating Experience.

Cynthia Brittain, J.D., LLM

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Partner, Karlin & Peebles, LLP

Professor Brittain is a partner in the boutique private client law firm Karlin & Peebles, LLP, in Beverly Hills. She has over 25 years of experience representing domestic and international clients seeking to transition wealth in a tax-efficient and practical manner while incorporating each respective family's personal goals and values. Her estate and tax planning practice has been dedicated to complex issues relevant to international corporate tax, international and domestic wealth transfer strategies, and pre-immigration planning. Professor Brittain has extensive experience with regulatory laws that affect U.S. domestic planning and tax compliance under several voluntary disclosure regimes. In addition, she worked within the international mergers and acquisitions group at a Big Four accounting firm and has continued advising clients on effectively integrating their global business operations into the U.S. tax regime. Professor Brittain obtained her bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of North Carolina, her J.D. from California Western School of Law and her Master of Laws in Taxation from the University of San Diego.

Charlie Cobb, M.S. (Taxation)

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Tax Partner (retired), Deloitte Tax LLP

Professor Cobb served as a Managing Director for the Tax Controversy Practice in the Pacific Southwest Region of Deloitte Tax LLP from 2002 until his retirement in 2021. In that role, he served clients and supervised others serving clients in all aspects of tax practice and procedure including representation of clients before the Internal Revenue Service and the California Franchise Tax Board in examinations, collections and appeals and before the National Office of the Internal Revenue Service in matters involving letter rulings and technical advice. From 1993 to 2002, Cobb served as a principal at Andersen. He developed Andersen's controversies practice on the West Coast. Between 1977 and 1993, he served as a special litigation attorney in the Office of Chief Counsel, IRS, where he represented the IRS in numerous cases before the United States Tax Court. Cobb obtained his law degree from Arizona State University - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, and is a member of the State Bar of California. He teaches Federal Tax Procedure.

James P. de Bree, CPA

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Tax Partner, Deloitte Tax LLP, Retired

Professor de Bree is a retired tax partner who worked at Deloitte Tax LLP for over forty years. He is a co-author of the leading tax treatise on REITs. He has also authored numerous articles dealing with tax issues affecting passthrough entities. He has been involved in numerous public and private REIT related transactions including the first UPREIT and several REIT conversion transactions. He is associated with numerous professional organizations including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (serving as an Appointed Member, Partnership Taxation Committee, 1989-1992), California Society of Certified Public Accountants, National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (serving as a member of the Government Relations and Accounting Committees). He is a member of CSUN’s MST Advisory Board. He co-teaches the real estate taxation course.

Rafael Efrat, J.S.D.

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Director, M.S. in Taxation Program, Professor, Department of Accounting

Dr. Efrat is an alumnus of the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics at CSUN, where he graduated with an accounting degree, magna cum laude. After becoming a Certified Public Accountant in the state of Illinois in 1989, Dr. Efrat obtained his law degree from the University of Southern California. He practiced law for five years, including a period of time at Ernst & Young tax practice. Dr. Efrat then became a Teaching Fellow at Stanford Law School, where he taught legal research and writing. He subsequently obtained a master's in law and a Doctor of Science of law degree from Stanford Law School. Dr. Efrat is the recipient of the California Society of CPA's Educator of the Year Award in 2014, California. CSUN's Preeminent Publication Award, Visionary Community Service-Learning Award, and the University's Outstanding Service Award. He joined the faculty of CSUN in 1999.

Monica Gianni, J.D., LLM, CPA

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Associate Professor, Department of Accounting

Professor Gianni has over 35 years of professional experience in taxation in public accounting firms, law firms, government, and private practice. She advises clients on tax matters related to the formation, operation and reorganization of business entities; represents tax-exempt organizations such as public charities, private foundations, health care organizations, and social welfare organizations; and addresses legal and tax issues with U.S. clients doing business in foreign countries and foreign investors entering the U.S. market. She is a frequent speaker on subjects related to international tax, tax-exempt organizations, limited liability companies, and corporate taxation. Professor Gianni earned her JD from the University of Notre Dame and her LLM in Taxation from the University of Florida in 1995. She is a licensed CPA and licensed attorney. Previously she has taught at the University of Washington and at the University of Florida. She teaches the International Taxation, Corporate Taxation and Partnership Taxation courses.

Robert Johnson, CPA, M.S. (Taxation)

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Managing Director, Crowe Horwath LLP

Professor Johnson is a Managing Director with Crowe Horwath State and Local Tax (SALT) practice. He has more than 25 years of experience serving the state and local tax needs of a wide variety of clients, ranging from publicly held Fortune 500 companies to privately held emerging growth firms. He holds a master of science degree in taxation from Golden Gate University and a bachelor of science in accounting from California State University, San Bernardino. He teaches State and Local Taxes.


Todd LaBelle, MST (Taxation)

Tax Partner, Deloitte Tax LLP

Professor LaBelle is the head tax partner at Deloitte Tax, LLP in Los Angeles. He has over twenty year experience serving clients in real estate and real estate investment trust industries in Southern California. He has extensive experience specializing in partnership and corporate tax matters. Professor LaBelle is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the California Society of CPAs. He obtained is masters in taxation from USC. He co-teaches the real-estate taxation course.

Rob Razani, CPA, M.S. (Taxation)

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Subject Matter Expert – Corporate Distributions & Adjustments, Internal Revenue Service

Professor Razani has worked for the Internal Revenue Service as a Revenue Agent for over 25 years. He currently works as a subject matter expert in the Corporate Distributions and Adjustments Issue Practice Group, where he provides guidance to IRS internal stakeholders on corporate and M&A transactions. His experience with the IRS includes over 14 years as a Senior Team Coordinator in the Large Business and International (LB&I) Division of the IRS, coordinating the tax examination of some of the nation's largest multinational public corporations. Professor Razani has extensive experience conducting training within the IRS, as well as teaching CPA review courses. Professor Razani earned his Bachelor of Science in Accounting from San Diego State University and his Master of Science in Taxation from California State, Northridge. He teaches the Income Tax Concepts and Their Business Application course as well as the Tax Research and Communication course.

Melissa Trofino, CPA

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Professor Trofino is a Managing Director in the Los Angeles office of Deloitte Tax LLP within the firm's national Strategic Tax Review practice. Melissa has assisted hundreds of companies with various federal tax accounting method changes, including a heavy focus in fixed asset saving opportunities and revenue recognition. Melissa works with a variety of companies across industries such as retail, auto, travel and hospitality, manufacturing, and aerospace and defense. Before joining the national practice, Melissa worked in the firm’s Business Tax Services group where she concentrated primarily on accounting for income taxes, as well as assisting companies with federal and state tax compliance. Prior to joining the firm, Melissa worked for a large regional grocery chain where she was responsible for federal, state, local, and indirect tax compliance, as well as audit support.

Melissa is a Certified Public Accountant and received her BSBA in Accounting and Finance from Robert Morris University and her Masters in Taxation from Duquesne University.

Advisory and Program Planning Board

John BalianAdjunct Faculty, Managing Partner, The Law Office of John Balian
Harvey BooksteinPartner, Armanino, LLP
Jim DeBreePartner, Deloitte, A Professional Corporation (Retired)
Keith DolabsonPartner, Gursey | Schneider LLP
Monica GianniAssociate Professor, California State University, Northridge
Dean JoaquinPartner, RSM US LLP
Robert JohnsonTax Partner, Crowe Horwath, LLP
Lucy NalbandianAdjunct Faculty, California State University, Northridge
Rob RazaniSenior Team Coordinator, Internal Revenue Service
Brian D. RoseTax Partner, Deloitte Tax LLP
Carl H. SasakiTax Partner, Crowe Horwath LLP
Leslie S. SobolPartner, Lucas, Horsfall, Murphy & Pindroh, LLP
Norm TamkinPartner, Holthouse Carlin & Van Trigt, LLP
Lior TemkinPartner, SingerLewak, LLP