Practice Areas & Industries: Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP


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Practice/Industry Group Overview

Sutherland has the skill, insight and strategic relationships to manage the complex intersection of insurance and taxation.

For more than five decades, Sutherland’s Insurance Taxation practice has addressed the most challenging tax issues facing the insurance industry, including the ways tax affects day-to-day operations, proposed acquisitions and reorganizations, surplus enhancement programs, product design and the treatment of policyholders and shareholders.

Sutherland attorneys assist with the full range of tax matters involving insurance products, from the design of tax-compliant life insurance and annuity products for the retail, private placement and corporate markets to the remediation of products that fail to be tax compliant. We advise on policyholder tax matters and excise tax concerns. We also work with corporate clients other than insurance companies to assess their insurance programs, including COLI/BOLI arrangements, and with major investment banks in developing investment strategies that support variable products. Our attorneys are leading advisers on property casualty, captive insurance and other risk funding plans, and we are at the leading edge of tax and related business issues associated with new insurance products and their marketing.

Our relationships with key Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Department officials, as well as with state tax and unclaimed property administrators, allow our attorneys to bring an unparalleled level of experience and vision to assist our clients.

Why Sutherland
Decades of industry knowledge
. Sutherland's prominence in insurance tax dates back to the founding of the firm more than 85 years ago. Our attorneys represent clients in virtually every area of insurance tax law on the international, national, state and local levels.

Global reach. In today’s economy, insurance companies often need to look across borders to maximize returns for shareholders and policyholders. Our attorneys both guide U.S. companies working overseas and help foreign companies to comply with U.S. tax laws and regulatory issues. We assist our clients with all insurance tax issues, wherever their business takes them.

Strong relationships with regulators. Our connections with officials at the IRS, Department of Treasury and other agencies allow us to help our clients better navigate the maze of regulations and rulings.

Tax controversy experience. When complications with tax issues develop, insurance companies need knowledgeable attorneys on their side. We know how to handle federal and state controversies at every stage, from audit to appeals to litigation. We are active in seeking private letter rulings from the IRS and in commenting on Treasury Department regulations and drafting tax legislation. Our attorneys have been victorious in three of the most frequently cited international tax cases.

Broad client base. We represent domestic and foreign insurance companies, mutual funds, banks and other financial institutions regarding taxation issues, including many in the Fortune 500.

Creative solutions. Our attorneys are at the leading edge of developing, designing and marketing new insurance products.

Nuts and Bolts
Our comprehensive service offerings for insurance taxation include:

  • Assisting insurance companies with tax planning and transactional work
    • Product design
    • Tax consequences of day to day operations
    • Proposed acquisitions and reorganizations
    • Surplus enhancement programs
    • Treatment of policyholders and shareholders
  • Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) compliance
  • Handling insurance company tax controversies at all stages
    • Audits
    • Appeals
    • Litigation
    • Private letter rulings from the IRS
  • International work
    • Offshore insurance arrangements
    • Advising domestic insurance clients on U.S. tax implications of international operations
    • Advising non-U.S.-based insurance companies on the income, branch profit and excise tax implications of their U.S. operations
    • Advising both U.S. and non-U.S.-based insurers on the impact of U.S. tax treaties and U.S. taxation of cross-border transactions

Take Action
Sutherland’s tax insurance team provides experience and knowledge with respect to all types of insurance issues. We help insurance and other financial service companies manage risk while maximizing shareholder and policyholder value.

Selected Experience
Sutherland advises international insurer on tax implications for the sale of its U.S. insurance operations.
Sutherland advised a large international insurance group on the tax consequences of dispositions of portions of its U.S. and U.S.-related insurance operations. These dispositions were complicated multinational reinsurance transactions.
Sutherland represents Manulife in restructuring U.S. operations.
Sutherland provided tax advice to Manulife Financial Corporation in the restructuring of its operations in the United States and establishing John Hancock Life Insurance Company (U.S.A.), with approximately $200 billion in assets under management, as its flagship company in the United States.
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.