Practice Areas & Industries: Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP


Tax Controversy & Litigation Return to Practice Areas & Industries

Group Profile Lawyers in this Group Offices Locations for this Group

Practice/Industry Group Overview

Sutherland’s internationally recognized tax controversy and litigation practice protects clients’ interests in IRS audits, appeals and tax litigation.

Sutherland guides clients through both anticipated and actual tax disputes—everything from planning to avoid tax controversies to handling IRS audits, appeals and tax litigation.

Our tax controversy lawyers advise clients on dealing with the IRS at every level of administrative proceedings, from pre-audit and audit-level proceedings to IRS appeals and litigation in any of the multiple forums where tax cases may be brought. We manage all aspects of tax audits and tax controversies, including mitigation of potential disputes before the IRS is involved, voluntary disclosures, strategically managing the dispute process during audits and appeals and exploring creative alternative dispute resolution options. Our tax controversy attorneys have a long and successful track record of settling our clients’ cases favorably at the audit and appeals levels.

Our tax controversy attorneys are experienced in every facet of tax litigation, from trials in the U.S. Tax Court, district courts and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to appellate proceedings before the U.S. Courts of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. Our experience spans the entire spectrum of tax issues and includes corporate, partnership, individual and tax-exempt cases.

Why Sutherland
Nationally ranked practice.
Our tax controversy and litigation practice was recently named by U.S. News-Best Lawyers as its 2013 “Law Firm of the Year” in Tax Litigation.

Experience. More than 30 attorneys handle tax controversy and litigation matters involving the income tax, estate tax, state and local taxes and excise taxes. We thoroughly understand the types of issues that the IRS has recently been emphasizing, such as claims for foreign tax credits or research and experimentation credits, Section 199 manufacturing deductions, repairs versus capitalization, cost segregation studies, TEFRA partnership cases, proposed revocations of tax-exempt status, and IRS penalty claims. While we are frequently able to resolve controversies short of litigation, our tax litigators have the experience and skills to effectively and efficiently pursue litigation when it becomes necessary. We have filed more than 100 court cases on behalf of more than 50 clients in recent years.

Key relationships. Our tax controversy attorneys have extensive relationships within the IRS and Department of Justice, and our knowledge of the tax system enables us to frequently negotiate very favorable settlements. Our firm has produced two IRS commissioners, one IRS Chief of Appeals and one IRS chief counsel. Moreover, many of our tax controversy attorneys were previously employed by the IRS, U.S. Treasury and Congress, or by state and local governments.

Firm-wide support. Our tax litigators are part of a much bigger and more diverse law firm. We can, and do, draw on the talents and experience of other litigators, as well as other attorneys with a vast range of understanding and knowledge.

Nuts and Bolts
Our experience includes:

  • IRS audit and other administrative proceedings representation and management
  • Information document requests (IDR)
  • Quality examination process (QEP)
  • Uncertain tax positions (UTP)
  • Compliance assurance process (CAP)
  • Administrative appeals
  • Private letter rulings, technical advice, voluntary disclosures
  • Tax court litigation
  • Refund litigation in federal district courts and U.S. Court of Federal Claims
  • State and local tax litigation
  • Appellate litigation
  • Alternative dispute resolution (prefiling agreements, mediation, arbitration)

Take Action
Sutherland’s tax attorneys stand ready to provide a client-focused approach that continually assesses the most efficient, cost-effective resolution to all forms of tax litigation and controversy.

Selected Experience
Sutherland represents international insurance company in tax litigation regarding $306 million tax refund.
Sutherland represents an international insurance company in a refund suit that it filed for its 1997 tax year, seeking the return of approximately $306 million in tax, penalties and interest. The case involves a number of issues, including whether the company is entitled to certain foreign tax credits that it claimed in various cross-border financing transactions.

Sutherland secures partial summary judgment in research tax credit case.
Sutherland represented a national transportation company in a research tax credit case involving computer software development.  The court ordered a partial summary judgment in our client's favor with respect to the legal standard applicable to internal use software.

Sutherland represents Procter & Gamble in $435 million tax refund suit.
Sutherland was lead counsel for Procter & Gamble in a multimillion dollar tax refund suit. The court recently entered summary judgment for Procter & Gamble on an issue of first impression involving the proper treatment of intercompany sales for research credit purposes.

Articles Authored by Lawyers at this office:

Impact of International Tax Reform Proposals on U.S. Insurance Companies
Dennis L. Allen,Thomas A. Gick,Jerome B. Libin,Jeffrey H. Mace,Michael R. Miles, November 27, 2013
On November 19, retiring Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) released a “Discussion Draft” setting forth his international tax reform proposals. Of note, the Discussion Draft includes several proposals that target the international operations of U.S. insurance...

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Baucus Releases International Business Tax Reform Discussion Draft
, November 27, 2013
On November 19, 2013, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) released a “Discussion Draft” of international tax reform proposals. The Discussion Draft proposes significant changes to the taxation of foreign income, including substantially expanding the definition of...

No Longer at Sea: IRS Finalizes Safe Harbor Reduction Regulations
, November 25, 2013
On November 14, 2013, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued final regulations that permit employers to suspend or reduce safe harbor nonelective contributions under a 401(k), 401(m), or 403(b) plan during the plan year. The final regulations also revise the requirements that apply to mid-year...

IRS Issues Final Regulations Regarding Transfers of Derivative Contracts
Robert S. Chase,Daniel R.B. Nicholas,Amish M. Shah,Rich Sun, November 15, 2013
On November 5, 2013, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued final regulations relating to the transfer or assignment of certain derivative contracts. The final regulations, which are provided as Treas. Reg. § 1.1001-4, address:

IRS Modifies “Use-It-Or-Lose-It” Rule for Health FSAs
, November 08, 2013
In Notice 2013-71 (Notice), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) relaxed its longstanding “use-it-or-lose-it” rule for health flexible spending accounts (Health FSAs). Employees may now be permitted to carry over up to $500 of their unused Health FSA balances to the following plan year to...

IRS Issues Draft FATCA FFI Agreement and Announces Positive New Rules for Insurance Companies
Dennis L. Allen,Jeffrey H. Mace,Michael R. Miles,M. Kristan Rizzolo,Carol P. Tello, November 04, 2013
On October 29, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2013-69, which includes guidance to foreign financial institutions (FFIs) entering into FFI agreements with the IRS and a draft FFI agreement. The Notice also describes some of the changes the IRS intends to make to the recently...

Illinois Click-Through Nexus Law Preempted by the Internet Tax Freedom Act
, October 25, 2013
In a 6-1 decision, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed an Illinois Circuit Court holding that Illinois Public Act 96-1544 (The Click-Through Nexus Act), requiring out-of-state retailers to collect and remit use tax, violates the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA). Performance Marketing Ass’n v....

BATSA Up: Congress Once Again Considers Nexus Legislation
Andrew D. Appleby,Zachary T. Atkins,Madison J. Barnett,Marlys A. Bergstrom,Jonathan A. Feldman, April 27, 2011
Would Thomas Jefferson approve of Congress imposing its will on state efforts to collect income tax from out-of-state companies? That was the question posed by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) to two sponsors of the Business Activity Tax Simplification Act of 2011 (BATSA) (H.R. 1439) who both happen to be...

ACLU Sues North Carolina Over Its Sales/Use Tax Audit Practice
Michele Borens,Jeffrey A. Friedman,Stephen P. Kranz,Marc A. Simonetti,Eric S. Tresh, July 15, 2010
The aggressiveness of some states to assert tax jurisdiction over out-of-state retailers (or to enforce tax against their customers) took another turn last week. On June 23, 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a complaint in U.S. Federal District Court against Kenneth Lay in his...