US taxes: contentious in United States
Baker McKenzie LLP represents multinational companies and high-net-worth individuals in domestic and multi-jurisdictional tax disputes, including transfer pricing controversies. The team has particular experience advising tech companies, pharmaceutical giants, and defense contractors, and also has a highly regarded SALT team. Contacts in Washington DC practice head George Clarke, who is known for his work in civil and criminal tax matters, and Duane Webber, who has led several of the firm's most sensitive cases over the past year. Robert Albaral in Dallas has experience representing clients in audits, administrative appeals, and judicial proceedings. In Palo Alto, Andrew Crousore is a contact for issues ranging from transfer pricing to the R&D credit, while Scott Frewing is a name to note for tax controversies, with a significant emphasis on Subpart F matters, foreign tax credits, and criminal tax penalties. Mark Roche was promoted to partner in San Francisco in 2019. Ethan Kroll left the firm for EY in April 2019.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team are a level above the rest of the room in terms of developing arguments and persuasiveness, with zealous advocacy, responsiveness, and value for money.’
Energy Transfer Partners
- Represented Schneider Electric in a Tax Court trial wherein the IRS challenged its allocation of Section 45 credits and deductions stemming from its investment in a partnership created to refine coal.
- Advised Altera Corporation on a challenge to the validity of a Treasury Regulation that required cost-sharing participants to share stock-based compensation valued at over $100m.
- Represented a client in litigation against criminal charges brought by the government for securities fraud; also in a securities fraud enforcement action brought by the SEC.
- Advised Sunoco on its appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit of a US Court of Federal Claims’ decision denying Sunoco income tax refunds arising from its 2004-2009 tax years; this involved $306m in tax refunds, plus $227m in additional deductions.
- Represented Facebook in Tax Court litigation regarding transfer pricing for 2010 transferred assets to Facebook Ireland.
Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered
Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered represents high-net-worth individuals, companies, banks, and asset management firms in administrative proceedings and criminal tax investigations. The firm has enjoyed some developments and expansion in its SALT practice, and continues to have a strong focus on financial institutions and healthcare industry work, as well as SKAT and 419A cases. Key figures in the team include Mark Allison in New York, who advises on complex federal, state, and cross-border tax controversy and litigation matters; Scott Michel, known for his work on highly contentious criminal tax cases; Dianne Mehany in Washington DC, a contact for international tax planning and controversies; and Charles Ruchelman, who handles tax disputes on behalf of corporations, trusts, and estates. Also recommended in the DC office are Victor Jaramillo, Niles Elber, and recently promoted partners Elizabeth Stevens and Megan Wernke. Sae Jin Yoon (also in DC) is a rising star in the team.
Scott Michel; Mark Allison
Other key lawyers:
‘I am a Canadian tax lawyer whose practice primarily involves golden-agers or their heirs with undeclared funds offshore. Because some of them are U.S. citizens and some heirs are also U.S. residents, I regularly engage Niles Elber and Scott Michel. This is an area based on administrative practice where poor advice could involve criminal sanctions. Niles and Scott are knowledgeable and empathetic. Caplin & Drysdale has the well deserved reputation as the leading US tax boutique and my relation with them enhances my own reputation in Canada.’
- Represented all of the approximately 200 United States-based defendants that have been sued by the Government of Denmark based on an allegation of withholding tax fraud in filings with the Danish tax authority, known as SKAT, seeking $2.1bn in tax refunds. This matter spans ten federal district courts and three state courts.
- Finished the representation for all but two of seven separate Swiss financial institutions in the DOJ Program for Swiss Banks, announced August 29, 2013.
Eversheds Sutherland represents large multinational corporations in high-profile tax cases in the US. In particular, the firm is noted for its strength in SALT cases, an area where practice head Jeffrey Friedman is a key contact in Washington DC. Other key figures in the team include Susan Seabrook and Daniel Schlueter in Washington DC, and Maria Todorova, who is another name to note for SALT matters in Atlanta. Eric Tresh is also recommended in Atlanta; he has recently led tax cases for clients including T-Mobile and Charter Communications. The firm is expanding its tax practice with a number of high-profile hires. Sarah Paul recently joined the team in New York, having previously served as United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Timothy Gustafson and senior counsel Eric Coffill re-joined the team in Sacramento in 2019 from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. Additionally, both Graham Green and Caroline Setliffe were promoted to partner in Washington DC.
Other key lawyers:
- Handling ongoing and repeat advisory work for Comcast in relation to a wide range of major tax disputes, including high-stakes tax litigation in the states of Tennessee and Massachusetts.
- Successfully represented Microsoft in a Wisconsin corporate income tax litigation matter involving the sourcing of receipts from licenses of software to computer manufacturers.
- Represented Northrop Grumman Corporation in the Maryland Tax Court relating to a dispute over how to source receipts from sales to the US Government, including classified sales.
- Representing Vitol in litigation involving the alternative fuel mixture credit.
- Advised Charter Communications on a wide range of strategic and legal considerations relative to state and local tax and the regulatory aspects of the company’s business.
Latham & Watkins LLP is 'exceptional from top to bottom'. The tax team has experience at all levels of federal and tax courts, where it acts for clients facing high-stakes federal tax controversies. The firm addresses some SALT cases in California and NY; however, its core focus is on federal tax matters arising from corporate and securities transactions, and transfer pricing, where it is regularly involved in the market's most novel cases. Washington DC-based practice head Miriam Fisher is 'whip smart' and is involved in a variety of high-stakes tax controversies for multinational businesses and high-net-worth individuals. Partner Jean Pawlow is a recent arrival from McDermott Will & Emery LLP and represents multinational companies and individuals in high-profile tax controversies, acting across the firm's Silicon Valley and Washington DC offices. Known for 'delivering results', Pawlow has experience of administrative tax disputes as well as alternative dispute resolution.
Other key lawyers:
Jean Pawlow; Brian McManus; Andrew Strelka
‘The Latham & Watkins tax controversy team is a diverse practice, particularly from a gender perspective as two of the three main partners are women, and that evidences itself in creative legal and strategic advice. It is a not a “volume” shop like many other leading controversy law groups, with large numbers of junior partners and associates handling menial work. Rather, the group’s staffing model is lean in comparison to the large assignments it takes on, with leadership that really leads from the front, and empowered associates who take on key roles in cases. Of the “Tier 1” tax controversy practices, Latham would be my pick as both the best overall and the best value. Miriam Fisher, the head of the practice, is one of the most respected tax controversy lawyers in the country and the team is molded in her image (open, very engaging on a personal level, strategically decisive, and whip smart). Her lieutenant, Partner Brian McManus, is a rising star in the tax controversy bar who handles large matters solo and is a devastating effective trial lawyer. Andrew Strelka, counsel to the firm, is an accomplished legal mind with deep government experience who supports the partners while managing a very successful practice of his own which focuses on exempt organizations.’
- Represented investment bank Citigroup in litigation in the US Court of Federal Claims seeking a refund of taxes in excess of $400m.
- Represented DreamWorks in a successful appeal in the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit of a taxpayer-adverse 2016 decision in a refund action in the US Court of Federal Claims, valued at $20m.
- Represented Siemens Corporation in a US Tax Court litigation involving the gain on the distribution by a US subsidiary of an automotive parts business to its German parent, valued at $230m.
- Represented Weyerhaeuser Company in US Tax Court litigation involving IRS allegations of a “disguised sale” in the case of a 2008 timberland joint venture between Plum Creek Timber and CalPERS, valued at $500m.
- Engaged by Facebook to represent its various former Facebook employees as witnesses in pre-trial depositions arising in Facebook’s ongoing transfer pricing litigation in the US Tax Court.
Mayer Brown has a strong reputation for litigating domestic tax cases, but stands out in particular for its transfer pricing capabilities and its ability to assess tax hazards overseas, acting for companies and investors looking to expand abroad. New York-based global co-leader of the tax controversy practice Brian Kittle represents high-profile clients in every facet of tax controversy. Key contacts in Chicago include Joel Williamson, John Hildy, and Thomas Kittle-Kamp, who has considerable trial experience in major transfer pricing, leasing, and corporate reorganization cases. Also recommended is Larry Langdon in California, who routinely represent multinational corporations dealing with federal tax disputes. Geoffrey Collins in New York and Marjorie Margolies in Chicago were promoted to partner in 2019.
Brian Kittle; Thomas Kittle-Kamp; Joel Williamson
Other key lawyers:
‘Joel Williamson and his team are as good or better than anyone in this area. They’ve managed a huge case against the IRS with incredible acuity and skill. Great client communicators too. Joel communicates clearly and effectively, presenting a well-articulated point of view but always giving the client the information he/she needs to make ultimate decisions on the major strategic questions.’
‘The firm has technical proficiency in complex tax matters and sound advice based on broad experience and creative solutions in tax controversy.’
- Achieved a rare bench opinion in favor of Cross Refined Coal and its partners, Fidelity Investments, Schneider Electric and AJ Gallagher, in the US Tax Court in a deal valued at over $300m.
- Represented Tribune Media Company and Chicago Baseball Holdings in their Tax Court cases contesting proposed deficiencies in tax of $181.7m and proposed penalties totaling $72.7m.
- Represented Hyatt Hotels Corporation in a tax case recently filed in the US Tax Court. The principal tax issue in the case involves asserted adjustments to Hyatt’s taxable income of some $228m. The issue also carries into future years in as-yet-undetermined amounts.
- Represented US Venture before the US District Court Eastern District of Wisconsin in related to the Alternative Fuel Mixture Credit under IRC 6426(e) over a $45m refund claim.
McDermott Will & Emery LLP represents clients in federal, state, and international tax controversies, including transfer pricing matters, and is also noted for its strength in SALT work. Global tax head Jane May is based in Chicago and focuses on SALT controversies; she is regularly involved in audits, as well as administrative and judicial proceedings. Catherine Battin is another contact in the Chicago office. Also recommended is Stephen Kranz in Washington DC, who has handled high-stakes tax disputes for clients including Apple and Starbucks. Other names to note are Andrew Roberson in Chicago, and SALT specialist Charles Moll in California. The tax group has seen some internal shuffles of late: Brian Jenn joined in Chicago from the US Department of the Treasury, and counsel Joe Henchman joined in Washington DC from the Tax Foundation. Conversely, Mark Thomas left the team for PwC, and Mark Yopp joined Baker McKenzie LLP.
Other key lawyers:
Level 3 Communications
Illinois Tool Works
- Represented My Pillow in a case brought against it under the Illinois False Claims Act.
- Successfully obtained dismissals in a number of jurisdictions over the past year on behalf of client Illinois Tool Works. The case addressed debt issues and a common strategy to repatriate cash back to the United States from foreign subsidiaries.
- Represented Cabela’s (a large retailer of hunting, fishing, camping, shooting, and outdoor equipment) in a variety of matters, including tax and transfer pricing disputes with the IRS.
- Served as tax counsel for Apple, advising on complex multi-state tax issues.
- Represented GROWMARK in two pending cases in the US Tax Court challenging IRS determinations that it owes millions in taxes.
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP advises multinational companies, partnerships, high-net-worth individuals, and tax-exempt organizations on a huge range of tax-related issues, from various controversy and litigation to planning and transactional support. Two key figures in the team are Sanford Stark and John Magee, who have formidable experience in transfer pricing disputes, and recently represented Coca-Cola in a transfer pricing dispute that is one of the largest tax cases to ever be fully litigated for a single taxpayer. Significant transfer pricing disputes have also been led by Chicago-based Thomas Linguanti and Rod Donnelly in Silicon Valley. Daniel Nelson in Boston and Barton Bassett in the San Francisco are also contacts in the wider tax group. The firm recently welcomed a number of new tax controversy partners and supporting lawyers, including Kathryn Hambrick, who joined from Squire Patton Boggs. Named lawyers are based in Washington DC unless indicated otherwise.
Barton Bassett; Sanford Stark; Daniel Nelson
Other key lawyers:
‘This firm continues to lead the way on US Tax representation, continuing to receive favorable rulings for their clients. The team we worked with specializes in the US Research and Development Tax Credit calculation.’
The Coca-Cola Company
Western Digital Corp.
The Trump Organization
Thomas & Betts
- Represented the Coca-Cola Company in relation to a multibillion-dollar notice of deficiency relating to the company’s 2007-2009 transfer pricing, involving a nearly $10bn IRS income adjustment and more than $3.5bn in tax deficiencies (before interest) for the years at issue in the litigation.
- Represented Western Digital Corporation in transfer pricing litigation involving two docketed cases and over $1.5bn in asserted income deficiencies for the taxpayer’s 2008-2012 tax years.
- Acted as lead counsel for Medtronic in the publicly docketed action in Medtronic, Inc. v. Commissioner, concerning several billion dollars in potential tax adjustments.
- Represented Zimmer Biomet in a complex transfer pricing dispute pending before the US Tax Court. One issue involves a proposed income adjustment of nearly $1bn.
- Represented both President Donald J. Trump in his personal capacity and The Trump Organization in general tax planning, tax controversy, and other business matters.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is rated for its record in highly sensitive IRS controversies, involving income tax, gift tax, and other related matters. Key figures in the practice group include global head of tax Eric Sensenbrenner; former IRS commissioner Fred Goldberg; and New York-based David Foster who, acting alongside Armando Gomez, has handled high-stakes tax disputes for Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refining and Marketing and Fidelity Investments. Also recommended are Raj Madan and Royce Tidwell, who are representing Agero Holdings in a dispute concerning the IRS' determination of the tax status of Agero's subsidiaries. Christopher Murphy was promoted to partner in 2019. All named attorneys are based in Washington DC.
Baker Botts L.L.P. has core strengths in representing energy-sector clients in high-value tax litigation and federal audits, counting some of the world's largest energy companies among its key clients. The practice group is headed by Richard Husseini in Houston, who is representing the firm's largest energy sector-clients in IRS audits, and is leading the team's representation of MoneyGram in a Fifth Circuit appeal of a summary Tax Court decision. Other names to note include Renn Neilson, who heads the SALT practice, and Jon Feldhammer, a former senior trial attorney at the IRS. The firm is also recognized for its private client work, an area where John Porter is a contact.
‘Jon Feldhammer is uniquely qualified to handle the types of matters I have for this team and the associates he is able to draw on also provide valuable input. Jon’s IRS experience and his practice since leaving the IRS is a very rare combination.’
LEIGH BOLIN MILLS AND CLAY HOUSTON BOLIN
LORRAINE P. BEAN AND NORTHERN TRUST COMPANY
USA COMPRESSION PARTNERS
- Acting for MoneyGram in a case on appeal at the Fifth Circuit concerning a summary judgment at the Tax Court. The firm did not handle the case at first instance.
- Represented the Independent Co-Executors of the Estate of Charles W. Bolin in challenging an alleged deficiency in estate tax and an accuracy-related penalty totaling approximately $31.3m.
- Represented USA Compression in over 200 property tax lawsuits in over 120 counties in Texas.
Chamberlain, Hrdlicka, White, Williams & Aughtry
Chamberlain, Hrdlicka, White, Williams & Aughtry has an 'outstanding reputation' representing taxpayers in all phases of tax controversy, including litigation at the federal, state and local levels. The group is noted in particular for its work in criminal tax matters, including allegations of failure to report income, fraudulent overstatement of deductions, and preparation of false tax returns, among others. The team has strong footholds in major commercial centers throughout the South and the East Coast. Key figures in the group include David Aughtry in Atlanta and Lawrence Sherlock in Houston, and Philip Karter in the Philadelphia office, all of whom have decades of experience in tax controversy and litigation. In San Antonio, Juan Vasquez is a name to note for administrative appeals and Jaime Vasquez is a contact for IRS examination work. Clients have also singled out Houston-based Larry Campagna for his 'excellent advocacy skills and substantive knowledge' of tax litigation.
David Aughtry; Lawrence Sherlock; Philip Karter
‘The firm has an outstanding reputation based on excellent knowledge of the law, both substantive and procedural, coupled with excellent advocacy skills. Larry Campagna is properly recognized nationally for his success in tax litigation.‘
- Served as tax advisors to a law firm representing multiple claimants in an arbitration matter against a large oil company for failure to allocate $49m of foreign tax credits to the claimants.
- Defended a prominent Texas oil and gas operator in a tax-related grand jury investigation relating to the company’s profit sharing plan.
- Represented an investor group in the US Tax Court in a dispute over accounting methods, involving over $39m of income taxes.
- Successfully appealed income tax adjustments in excess of $60m dollars that the IRS proposed to assess against a subsidiary of a real estate firm.
- Defended a prominent Texas oil and gas operator in a tax-related grand jury investigation relating to the company’s profit-sharing plan.
Kirkland & Ellis LLP advises clients on tax issues ranging from pre-audit planning to audits, through administrative appeals and post-appeals mediation, as well as tax litigation both in federal and state courts. Leveraging a market-leading private equity practice, the team regularly acts for prominent private equity funds and their portfolio companies in tax audits and related proceedings. Chicago-based practice co-leader Todd Maynes has core strengths in tax litigation relating to and arising from restructurings, and bankruptcies and insolvencies, while joint practice head Natalie Keller (also in Chicago) is a name to note for IRS audits and appeals, as well as tax litigation. A number of new members have recently joined the firm, among them are Michael Greenberg in Los Angeles from DLA Piper LLP (US), Paul Patrow in Chicago from Faegre Baker Daniels, Philip Cooke in New York from Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP, Anne Kim in Los Angeles from Proskauer Rose LLP, and Sehj Vather in New York from Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.
Todd Maynes; Natalie Keller
Other key lawyers:
- Representing Horsehead Corporation (now known as American Zinc Recycling Corp), in litigation pending before the Illinois Supreme Court. Representing Kinder Morgan in a novel tax refund suit filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
- Advised WR Grace in bankruptcy court litigation seeking a multimillion-dollar refund from the IRS.
- Representing Kinder Morgan in a novel tax refund suit filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas, in a matter valued at $20m.
Miller & Chevalier Chartered
Miller & Chevalier Chartered is consistently engaged by some of the markets most enviable corporates to handle high-stakes and often novel tax disputes. Practice chair Kevin Kenworthy is the lead litigator on a number of the firm's largest tax litigation matters; he recently acted as co-counsel to Coca-Cola in a multibillion-dollar transfer pricing dispute. Other key figures include George Hani, a name to note for administrative tax controversies; Maria O’Toole Jones, who handled a significant refund dispute for Blue Cross Blue Shield; and Rocco Femia, who has a strong track record of advising multinational corporates on high-stakes transfer pricing disputes and other tax controversy, as well as on tax policy matters. Layla Asali acts as vice chair of the tax practice, and specializes in the taxation of cross-border transactions. All named attorneys are based in Washington DC.
Kevin Kenworthy; Layla Asali
Other key lawyers:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield Company
The Coca-Cola Company
Valero Marketing & Supply
- Represented The Coca-Cola Company before the US Tax Court in a high-stakes transfer pricing dispute. The taxpayer filed suit in response to an IRS determination that Coca-Cola owed $3bn of US income taxes for the years 2007-2009 for an alleged $9.4bn in additional income from the company’s licensing of intangible property to foreign affiliates.
- Represented ExxonMobil Corporation in an income tax refund suit. The IRS denied ExxonMobil’s deduction for roughly $1bn of federal fuel excise taxes.
- Represented a Blue Cross and Blue Shield company before the US Court of Federal Claims in a federal income tax refund suit. The dispute is over a question of statutory interpretation under Section 833 of the Internal Revenue Code.
- Filed an excise tax refund suit in the Western District of Texas on behalf of a subsidiary of Valero Energy, in an issue valued at $122m.
- Represented the subsidiary of Shell Oil Company in litigation in the Southern District of Texas in an income tax refund suit, regarding more than $800m of income adjustments.
Steptoe & Johnson LLP
Steptoe & Johnson LLP has a respected tax team, rated for its track record in complex and often highly sensitive tax controversy, both domestic and international. A key figure for tax controversy and litigation is firm chairman Philip West, who handles federal audits, litigation and a variety of other issues for an impressive roster of multinational corporates. Amanda Pedvin Varma and Walker Johnson are also recommended. Johnson has particular expertise in the financial services and insurance taxation, while Pedvin Varma specializes in advising family offices and high-net-worth individuals on cross-border investments. Lisa Zarlenga and Robert Rizzi are additional contacts in the wider tax department.
Philip West; Robert Rizzi; Lisa Zarlenga
Brazil-US Business Council
Silicon Valley Tax Directors Group
- Prepared and filed amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit in support of the taxpayer (Altera) and seeking affirmance of the en banc Tax Court decision; represented Amici trade associations, whose members constitute the overwhelming majority of the US GNP.
- Assisted the Brazil-US Business Council in providing a roadmap for a bilateral tax treaty between Brazil and the US.
Cooley LLP represents clients in tax controversy at the federal and state levels, and is also noted for its experience in tax matters with complex cross-border components. New York-based practice head Kathleen Pakenham acts for a client base including a number of Fortune 500 companies, advising on tax shelter issues, options trading transactions, and tax fraud, among others matters. Another contact is Adriana Wirtz, who regularly represents clients in high-stakes matters in federal and state courts, as well as in proceedings before the IRS.
Other key lawyers:
Adriana Wirtz; Stephen Gardner
‘Cooley has a first class tax practice. Kathleen Pakenham is a brilliant tax practitioner and a pleasure to collaborate with. She is pragmatic and business focused.’
Turo, Shareholders of Braen Commercial Holdings
S. Crow Collateral Corp.
- Represented RERI Holdings I in a closely watched appeal of a US Tax Court decision before the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. The suit challenged the IRS’s disallowance of a $33m deduction based on a novel interpretation of valuation tables.
- Represented Entergy Corp. in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in connection with a claim for refund exceeding $400m.
- Represent shareholders of Braen Commercial Holdings in consolidated US Tax Court cases in connection with bargain sale and research and development credits.
DLA Piper LLP (US)'s tax team provides comprehensive support to clients involved in tax disputes nationwide. In addition to its work in more traditional civil and criminal federal tax disputes, the team also represents targets or potential targets of whistleblower claims, acts for high-net-worth individuals in IRS audits, and has niche experience in estate and gift tax litigation. New York-based practice leaders Ellis Reemer and Diana Erbsen are 'both very experienced and highly respected', forming the core of an overall 'formidable team'. Joseph Myszka joined in Silicon Valley from Baker McKenzie LLP in 2019.
Diana Erbsen; Ellis Reemer
Other key lawyers:
Joseph Myszka; Tamara Shepard
‘The DLA team is led by Ellis Reemer and Diana Erbsen, both very experienced and highly respected members of the tax controversy bar. Within DLA, Ellis and Diana have a wealth of resources and are very skilled at putting together teams of lawyers and administrative professionals to best serve their clients. Diana Erbsen is brilliant, experienced, tactical and has strong relationships among the private bar and within DOJ, IRS and NYS revenue authority. Ellis Reemer is also an extremely knowledgeable and experienced practitioner whose skills, judgment, and strong work ethic have served as the basis for a history of successful results on behalf of his clients.’
The team at Fenwick & West LLP has experience handling IRS audits and tax litigation in federal court. Tax litigation chair Kenneth Clark is a name to note for federal tax audits, litigation and appeals, and transfer pricing-related advisory and controversy work. Another key figure is James Fuller, who stands out in this space for his market-leading transfer pricing expertise. Adam Halpern chairs the wider tax group and has an active transactional and cross-border advisory practice. All named attorneys are based in Mountain View, California.
- Acted for VF Corporation in the US Tax Court that involves a Section 367(d) issue with an income adjustment by the IRS.
- Advised Stoke Therapeutics on its $163m IPO.
- Advised Cheesecake Factory in Cheesecake Factory v. Commissioner, valued at $348.5m.
- Recently advised on a dispute for Repsol in Repsol v. United States, a tax case filed in the US Court of Federal Claims, which was successfully resolved by a settlement in January 2019.
- Leading in an ongoing tax court case for Boswell.
Kostelanetz & Fink
Kostelanetz & Fink is 'a boutique firm of extraordinary quality that can ably handle civil and criminal tax matters at the federal and state level'. Several of the firm's partners have previous experience working at state and federal prosecutors offices. One example is Washington DC-based Caroline Ciraolo, the former Acting Assistant Attorney General of the DOJ’s Tax Division. Ciraolo focuses on complex civil tax controversies, including audits and litigation in federal and state courts. Also recommended is Bryan Skarlatos in New York, an 'innovative' tax litigator with extensive experience of state and federal tax audits and litigation, as well as criminal tax investigations. Robert Russell joined as counsel in Washington DC from Zerbe, Miller, Fingeret, Frank & Jadav, PC in July 2019.
Other key lawyers:
Caroline Ciraolo; Robert Russell; Megan Brackney
‘Their approach was diligent, fact-based research. Nothing was taken for granted. While they had an entire command of understanding tax law and practices they combined this with solid audit rebuttal tactics. They were particularly effective in communicating their points of view in a persuasive written approach that enabled senior government officials to understand and resolve fairly.’
‘The firm has a deep knowledge of the tax controversy space. They are leaders in the field.’
‘Bryan Skarlatos, Sharon McCarthy, Caroline Ciraolo and Kevin Flynn are each knowledgeable, well-respected, and deal well with clients facing difficult circumstances.’
‘A strong group of tax controversy experts, with aggressive, experienced, thoughtful attorneys. This group should be among the top five tax controversy boutiques on everyone’s lists.’
‘Brian Skarlatos has a wealth of top tier experience in tax controversies, both civil and criminal. He can find innovative ways to settle tax cases.’
‘This is a boutique tax firm of extraordinary quality that can ably handle civil and criminal tax matters at the federal and state level. They have assembled a truly impressive team of tax litigators in both New York and D.C.‘
‘Bryan Skarlatos is a highly respected leader of the tax controversy bar and a litigator of considerable renown. He is a go-to resource for significant federal matters we are unable to handle and for New York State matters in particular.’
‘Caroline Ciraolo is a tireless advocate for her clients and a tax bar leader. She has quickly attracted a team to D.C. with talent and depth.’
First Hawaiian Bank
Donald and Fatima Roland
Claudius Peters Group
Piller Power Systems
Chukah & Tecson
- Represented an institutional fiduciary of a trust with assets of approximately $200m.
- Counsel for a client in litigation related to a refund action filed in the Southern District of New York to recover tax penalties already paid.
- Represented a whistleblower alleging unreported income and substantial tax liabilities with respect to large multi-national corporations and involving the use of offshore, multipurpose entities.
Norton Rose Fulbright handles a range of domestic and cross-border tax matters, and is noted in particular for its expertise in the energy industry. The tax group is jointly headed by Houston-based Robert Morris, who handles tax controversy for a host of offshore drilling companies and energy-sector clients including Noble Corporation and Diamond Offshore Drilling, and William Cavanagh in New York, who has an active transactional practice, but also represents clients in disputes with state and federal tax authorities. Robert Kovacev and Steven Kuntz are other key figures, in Washington DC and Houston, respectively. Also of note, the team has made a few recent additions to its New York office: David Burton joined from Mayer Brown, while white-collar defense lawyers Mayling Blanco and Carlos Ortiz joined from Blank Rome LLP.
Robert Morris; William Cavanagh
Other key lawyers:
‘The practice is excellent in developing a strategy to deal with IRS controversies; it is also very creative with estate planning strategies.‘
‘Charles Hall and Robert Morris are both very creative, attentive to our business needs, and help us find a way to solve our differences with the IRS in a mutually acceptable way.’
‘Joseph Sleeth helps us take advantage of new planning ideas and changes in the estate tax law.’
Delek US Holdings
Diamond Offshore Drilling
Bluescape Resources Company
Vega Energy Partners
Baker Hughes Co.
- Lead trial counsel for Meredith in a $12m tax refund litigation against the IRS involving Meredith’s claim for a domestic production activities deduction based on the production of Better Homes & Gardens and other publications.
- Trial counsel for Delek in a $16m tax refund suit against the IRS regarding Delek’s claim for an income tax deduction for certain excise tax payments on the sale of alternative fuels.
- Advised Noble on tax controversy matters around the globe for many years, including a significant proposed adjustment by the IRS to Noble’s transfer pricing. The matter was fully conceded earlier this year by IRS Appeals with Noble receiving a refund that was approved by the Joint Committee on Taxation.
- Represented Diamond in the application for a bilateral advance pricing agreement between the United States and Australia.
- Represented Adams Challenge in a US Tax Court case involving approximately $75m in tax deficiencies plus penalties.
Reed Smith LLP
Reed Smith LLP has handled federal tax disputes at all levels, and is also well-placed to advise on state tax issues in several key markets, including California, Illinois, Delaware and New Jersey. Contacts in the team include Lee Zoeller and Kenneth Levine, both in Philadelphia, and Andres Vallejo in San Francisco, who has a reputation in SALT disputes.
Thompson & Knight LLP
Thompson & Knight LLP has experience of a variety of tax matters, but is particularly active in the area of oil and gas, where it handles tax disputes for large corporates, partnerships and private equity investors. Practice co-head Mary McNulty is regularly involved in IRS audits, appeals, and tax litigation, with an emphasis on federal tax procedural issues. McNulty and Emily Parker are acting for Energy Future Holdings as special tax counsel on certain aspects of its ongoing bankruptcy. Todd Keator jointly heads the team with McNulty, and focuses on state tax planning. Lee Meyercord was promoted to partner in 2019. All named attorneys are based in Dallas.
Mary McNulty; Todd Keator
‘Thompson & Knight has fused together a team of tax litigators and general litigators that are creative and efficient in developing and executing creative strategies to resolve complex tax controversies, whether in court or administratively. They also are completely transparent and efficient. Above all, they listen and appropriately respond to clients’ issues and requests.’
‘Emily Parker is a senior counsel who is the foremost oil and gas tax expert in the country. She is able to lever her vast knowledge and experience for her lawyers.’
‘Mary McNulty is a lawyer’s lawyer. She is careful and pushes and pulls until the client has the best strategy.’
‘Bill Katz is a top-notch litigator who has levered his complex litigation talents to out maneuver the competition.’
‘Lee Meyercord is a young tax partner who is smart, creative and an excellent communicator. She does not shy away from complex issues. Lee will be her own tax controversy powerhouse in the years to come.’
‘Meghan Nylin is a young litigation partner who has excellent rapport with her clients and is fantastic in meetings with corporate executives who are required to be witnesses in ongoing litigation.’
‘Jessica Kirk is a young tax associate to keep your eyes on. She is smart, creative and fearless.’
‘Dina McKeeny is a fantastic, smart young associate with clerk experience she puts to great use. She knows rules backwards and forwards and has learned to apply them in creative ways to her clients’ benefit. She would be a more-than-formidable opponent.‘
Winston & Strawn LLP is known for handling IRS appeals for high-net-worth individuals and financial institutions including banks, insurance companies, and brokerage firms. New York-based Lawrence Hill leads many of the team's most significant tax disputes, having recently acted as lead counsel in Tax Court litigation concerning a CLO's sale of warrants. Also recommended in New York are of counsel Richard Nessler and Edmund Cohen, who has experience of tax planning for international corporate businesses and high-net-worth multinational families. Olga Loy and Robert Heller jointly chair the global tax group in Chicago and New York, respectively. Deborah Goldstein has retired.
Lawrence Hill; Olga Loy; Robert Heller
Reniassance Technologies/Medallion Fund
Artex Risk Solutions
The Dillon Trusts
- Handled legal and tax work for the Medallion Fund, and other investment funds managed by Renaissance Technologies.
- Advised the participating partner in Cross Refined Coal LLC, et al. v. Commissioner in a case of first impression involving the allowance of claimed IRC § 45(e) refined coal production tax credits.
- Lead counsel for Telos CLO 2006-1 and Telos CLO 2007-02 in litigation in US Tax Court for the determination of effectively connected income with respect to a CLO’s sale of warrants.
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP has an enviable client roster of financial institutions, private equity firms, and major multinational corporates, which rely on the firm for support in international and domestic tax controversy. The key figure in this space is Mario Verdolini, who represents clients in audits and administrative appeals, as well as in tax litigation. His clients have included the likes of PepsiCo, Citigroup and General Electric.
Dentons is active in all areas of tax litigation, from civil and criminal cases at first instance to appeals, as well as in mediation and other forms of ADR. Its team includes former government trial counsel and trial lawyers, and pulls in support from across the firm's network of technical tax specialists and litigators. Based in Washington DC, tax controversy practice chair Jeffrey Erney has unique insight into tax disputes, owing to previous experience as a senior tax attorney with the Office of Chief Counsel for the IRS. Peter Anthony took a position at the US Department of Justice.
Greenberg Traurig, LLP has broad expertise in federal, state, and local tax disputes, ranging from employment tax examinations and appeals to voluntary disclosures of offshore assets. A name to note in New York is Scott Fink, who has a strong track record both in civil and criminal tax disputes. Key contacts in San Francisco include SALT specialist Bradley Marsh and Michelle Ferreira, who handles a variety of federal tax matters such as IRS audits, and also represents clients in issues with state and local regulators, such as the California Franchise Tax Board. The tax controversy group is chaired by Barbara Kaplan in the New York office.
Shearman & Sterling LLP handles IRS audits and federal tax disputes relating to international corporate reorganizations and transfer pricing matters, as well as tax accounting methods. The team also has experience of criminal tax investigations and Congressional hearings. Robert Rudnick and Kristen Garry are names to note in Washington DC; the two are representing the estate of the founder of Monster.com in a string of related proceedings both in Tax Court and at the Court of Appeals, having secured initial victory in a case of first impression. New York-based Michael Shulman leads the wider tax group, and routinely handles the tax aspects of large M&A, restructurings, and spin-offs.
The Estate of Andrew J. McKelvey (the founder of Monster.com)
Susquehanna International Group
Vinson & Elkins LLP handles some of the most complex tax matters the energy and oil and gas industries, in support of the firm's wider strengths in these areas. In particular, the tax team has experience of energy-related tax credits, securities and financial product taxation, and international tax treaties. In the Houston office, George Gerachis heads the tax and executive compensation team, and represents clients in a wide range of tax controversy matters, and David Cole advises clients on both domestic and international controversial tax issues. Contacts in Washington DC include Gary Huffman, who focuses on domestic and international tax planning, tax transactions, and litigation. Chris Vaughn retired from the partnership in December 2018.
Anadarko Petroleum Corporation
Marathon Oil Corporation
Energy Transfer Equity
Marathon Petroleum Company
- Represented SoCal Sports Net in a Tax Court dispute with the IRS over the tax treatment of certain transactions in which SoCal and Fox Sports formed a regional sports network in San Diego to televise San Diego Padres baseball games.
- Represented Anadarko Petroleum Corporation in two suits in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Texas; both matters recently settled with the IRS, which conceded most of the $89m at issue, leading to substantial refunds of tax paid by Anadarko.
- Represented Marathon Petroleum Company in a series of cases in the US Tax Court, valued at $1bn in taxable gain.
- Represented Andeavor Logistics (formerly Tesoro) in front of IRS Appeals in a dispute over the tax treatment of several debt-financed partnership distributions, which the IRS contended were not tax-free, but instead were taxable disguised sales.
- Representing Energy Transfer Equity in litigation in the Delaware Court of Chancery involving claims by The Williams Companies for billions of dollars in damages and a $410m termination fee.
Akerman LLP has a strong nationwide footprint, handling audits and tax litigation in federal and state courts across the country. Headed by Peter Larsen, 'an extremely capable and effective leader', the practice group has a track record in trial and appellate litigation, and has enjoyed some of its most notable recent successes at state supreme courts. Deputy practice chair David Blum is a contact in the Chicago office, while Michael Bowen heads the state and local tax practice from Jacksonville. Mary Samsa (also in Chicago) joined the team in January 2019 from McDermott Will & Emery LLP.
Peter Larsen; David Blum; Michael Bowen
Other key lawyers:
David Otero; Mary Samsa
‘The team is ready to help at a moments notice. They jump right in to assess the problem and suggest a solution.‘
‘Peter Larsen is an extremely capable, and effective practice leader. He is very approachable and will handle any size task. He is the go-to expert on automotive leasing matters.‘
‘Michael Bowen is a zealous advocate who is friendly and easy to work with.’
Ford Motor Company
The Seminole Tribe of Florida
Nissan Motor Company
Toyota Motor Corporation
Ally Financial (formerly GMAC)
Capital One Financial Corporation
DriveTime Automotive Group
- Advised Cudd Pumping Services on claims for refund in the amount of approximately $20m.
- Represented Global Mail in litigation with the Illinois Attorney General over an issue valued in excess of $1.5m.
- Represented Expedia in tax issues raised by the Iowa Department of Revenue (approx. $9m), Maine Revenue Services (approx. $2.4m) and other taxing authorities.
- Advised Macy’s on seeking refunds of over $4m of bad debt sales tax paid to the State of Illinois.
- Advised Ally Financial in state and local tax consulting and controversy matters on issues valued in excess of $2m.
Baker & Hostetler LLP advises clients across a range of tax-related matters, including audits, appeals, mediation, and litigation. The firm-wide tax group is headed by Jeffrey Paravano in Washington DC, who has wide-ranging expertise in tax controversy and litigation, REIT taxation, and cross-border tax planning, among other areas. Also recommended are Paul Schmidt, who was recently appointed firm chairman, and Columbus-based Edward Bernert, who specializes in SALT disputes in Ohio. Brian Davis recently joined the DC office from PwC and now heads the international tax team.
The Archer Daniels Midland Company
The Timken Company
The Carlyle Group
American Greetings Corporation
- Served as lead tax counsel to the outside tort claimants committee in the PG&E (California wildfires) bankruptcy case, with $60bn in claims.
- Served as lead tax counsel in Moore v. United States of America, filed in federal district court in Seattle, Washington, challenging the constitutionality of the “deemed repatriation” provisions passed as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
- Represented Mars in the Ohio Supreme Court in a case valued at more than $1m.
- Represented State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance in court. The case made law by determining how sale-leasebacks are used to determine value.
Jones Day is experienced in representing clients in tax litigation, as well as in Congressional proceedings, and criminal and other regulatory investigations. A number of lawyers in the core team have prior experience at IRS and US Department of Justice. New York-based Kathryn Keneally is the key figure in the tax controversy practice. A former assistant attorney general at the DOJ's Tax Division, Keneally specializes in civil and criminal tax litigation and investigations. The wider tax group is jointly led by Joseph Goldman in Washington DC and Edward Kennedy in New York.
Joseph Goldman; Edward Kennedy
Other key lawyers:
Frank Jackson; Kathryn Keneally; Charles Hodges
Red Oak Estates
- Obtained dismissal with prejudice of claims brought against Alliantgroup under the RICO Act and demands for declaratory relief invalidating a Texas statute concerning energy-efficient tax deductions, as well as the dismissal of pendent state law claims in a case valued at $1m.
- Obtained full concession on behalf of a taxpayer in US Tax Court who invested funds that were used to pay litigation expenses. This was an issue of first impression in a case valued at $50m.
- Recently won a unanimous US Supreme Court decision barring discriminatory taxation of federal employees.
- Advised multiple real estate investment funds that contributed multimillion-dollar conservation easements to conservation groups that are now challenged by the IRS, valued at $10m.
Morrison & Foerster LLP represents clients before the IRS and numerous state tax authorities in audits and appeals. Leveraging the firm's strong reputation in DC, the team has also advocated before the Treasury Department to influence the regulatory process. The firm was also among the first large US law firms to form a dedicated SALT practice. Of counsel Edward Froelich leads the firm's federal tax controversy group in Washington DC and has extensive experience representing clients in audits and federal tax litigation of all kinds. Anthony Carbone and David Strong in New York are contacts in the wider tax group. Mitchell Newmark, Craig Fields and Nicole Johnson left the firm for Blank Rome LLP.
Anthony Carbone; David Strong
Other key lawyers:
‘They have an awareness of their high-end position in legal field and delivering on it; a sense of mission and sensitivity as regards clients’ needs and crises; high expertise and well-established competitive position; they have a well-deserved and earned respect of the other firms and peers.’
‘The SALT partners and professionals provide the highest quality of service and understanding to the issues we have.’
‘The SALT attorneys and partners I deal with provide a level of understanding necessary to deal with issues I raise with them. I find the advice I solicit and receive is value-adding and timely to service our needs.’
‘The fact that many of the attorneys have previous experience working in the state tax administration gives them a good understanding of the procedures and strategies likely to be used by the revenue department. The fact they have experience working cases in several states provides a strong litigation background.’
ADP Vehicle Registration
Daimler Investments US Corp.
Kohl’s Department Stores
Lorillard Tobacco Company
Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company
US Bank National Association
Sullivan & Worcester LLP
Sullivan & Worcester LLP advises businesses and individuals engaged in disputes with the IRS, as well as with state and local tax authorities, in particular the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. The firm manages tax controversies at all stages, including ruling requests, audits, and trial and appellate litigation. Leader of the tax group Richard Jones concentrates on state tax litigation, and David Nagle focuses on representing taxpayers in disputes with the IRS and the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. Caroline Kupiec joined from KPMG in January 2019. All named attorneys are based in Massachusetts.