Our Tax Controversy and Litigation group represents individuals, businesses, Indian tribes and other governmental entities as well as nonprofit organizations in all phases of federal, state and tribal tax controversies. Our areas of expertise include audits, administrative appeals, alternative dispute resolution procedures, litigation and collection actions.
Our team is led by experienced tax lawyers and seasoned litigators who have formed strong working relationships with the IRS and state department of revenue auditors, appeals officers and counsel. The depth of our substantive and procedural capabilities allows us to successfully represent clients in all major tax areas and in all administrative and litigation forums
We act for more than 300 major multinationals, as well as U.S. Indian tribes, businesses and individuals. We manage cases ranging from U.K. and U.S. tax controversies to local tax agency disputes, VAT matters and the application of European Union community law to E.U. member-state domestic tax laws. We achieve optimal results for our clients by meeting complex commercial challenges with innovative solutions.
Federal Tax Controversies
We represent all types of clients with respect to tax controversies with the IRS and other taxing authorities. Among other matters, we have represented individuals and businesses, ranging from emerging companies to global multinationals, with respect to:
- Income tax issues
- Worker classification reviews and other employer/employee issues
- Tax-exempt entities and bonds
- Private letter rulings
- Alternative dispute resolution options, including pre-filing agreements, Fast-Track Appeals resolution, Post-Appeal mediation and other IRS programs
- Tax issues related to cooperatives
- Voluntary disclosures, including FBAR and Section 3520 disclosures
- Criminal tax fraud
- Estate, gift and generation-skipping tax, including valuation-centered controversies
- Innocent spouse relief
- Trust fund recovery penalties
- Collection matters, including collection due process hearings, offers in compromise, installment payment agreements, penalty abatement requests, and issues related to federal tax liens and levies
- Excise taxes
- Tax issues related to Indian tribes, tribal entities and tribal members
State tax Controversies
Our areas of state tax controversy and litigation expertise and experience include:
- Individual income tax matters, including residency issues and taxation of non-residents
- Corporate income and franchise taxes, including nexus and apportionment issues
- Occupation and sales and use taxes
- Innocent spouse relief
- Voluntary disclosure agreements
- State income tax withholding and reporting issues, including worker classification issues
- Collection matters, including penalty abatement requests, liens and levies
- Cigarette, tobacco, fuel and other excise taxes
- Real property transfer taxes
- Personal liability for trust fund taxes
We defend clients against a broad variety of tax claims and we also help them obtain clarifications from the taxing authorities through private letter rulings, technical advice memorandums and other means. Some of the matters we have successfully defended include:
- Keweenaw Bay Indian Community v. Naftaly. Won summary judgment enjoining Michigan officials from enforcing the Michigan General Property Tax Act against lands owned in fee simple by the tribe and tribal members within their Indian reservation. Result confirmed on appeal. (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth circuit)
- Herbert V. Kohler, Jr., et al., v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue. Represented the Kohler estate in trial before U.S. Tax Court contesting IRS assertion that $60 million in taxes and penalties were owed. Tax Court concluded no additional taxes were due. (U.S. Tax Court)
- Winnebago Tribe v. Stovall. Obtained a preliminary injunction enjoining Kansas officials from enforcing the Kansas motor fuel tax laws against tribes and tribal officials engaged in Indian nation-to-Indian nation trading. Affirmed on appeal. (U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, U. S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit)
- Little Six, Inc. v. United States. Represented Indian tribe casino owners and obtained holding that federal wagering taxes do not apply to Indian tribal governments (Federal Circuit)
- Private Letter Ruling 200511006. Obtained ruling from the IRS that funds distributed to tribal members constitute income from a fishing-rights related activity and therefore are exempt from federal income, FICA and FUTA taxes.
- Technical Advice Memorandum 200106007. Persuaded IRS that trust program for minor tribal members gives rise to income tax when amounts are distributed from the trusts to the tribal members and not before.
- Private Letter Ruling 199908006. Obtained IRS ruling confirming that deferred per capita benefit program for electing adult tribal members using Rabbi trust funding vehicle achieves income tax deferral objective.
- Private Letter Ruling 9847018. We sought and successfully obtained an IRS ruling that a tribal corporation will be treated as a state for purposes of issuing tax exempt obligations
- Represented federally recognized Indian tribe before the IRS appeals office on a worker classification matter and obtained concession of over 95 percent of the amount at issue.
- Obtained full concession in representation of individual taxpayer before the U.S. Tax Court in trust fund recovery penalty matter.
- Represented individual in an IRS audit covering “mark to market” losses, original issue discount and depreciation deductions. Eliminated the proposed multi-million dollar deficiency in full and recovered a substantial refund.
- Protested an IRS assessment of civil penalties for failure to file correct information returns and received over $200,000 in concessions.
- Represented individual taxpayer in an audit by the California Franchise Tax Board regarding partnership tax issues and received favorable settlement, reducing adjustment by over $2.5 million.
- Obtained innocent spouse relief from the IRS and Minnesota Department of Revenue for taxpayer with individual liability resulting from former spouse’s actions.
Industries & Practices
- Closely Held Businesses
- Indian & Alaska Native
- Nonprofit & Tax Exempt Organizations
- Trusts & Estates Litigation