Taxation – State and Local

Controversy and Planning Representation

Current economic conditions have forced state and local governments to continue their aggressive search for additional revenues. We know that our clients remain focused on managing their exposure to tax pressures. Our state and local tax (SALT) attorneys are dedicated to providing the comprehensive, realistic and value-added services to our clients throughout the United States in dealing with those pressures.

Our SALT group includes 15 attorneys who provide consultation and advocacy for a broad array of clients regarding income, franchise, sales and use, gross receipts, property and other taxes imposed by state and local governments. Our tax attorneys have represented clients with SALT matters not only in all the southeastern states and in Washington, D.C. where our offices are located, but also in a multitude of other states -- such as California, the Carolinas, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming – more than 30 states and Washington, D.C. in total. We have also litigated SALT cases for our clients and defended collection and enforcement actions, and have done so successfully in substantially all of those states.

We guide, advise and represent our clients throughout all stages of any tax disputes before state and local administrative agencies, and represent our clients in seeking relief within available amnesty, voluntary disclosure, and penalty waiver programs. Additionally, our SALT attorneys regularly advise clients regarding complex transactional issues, planning structures and multi-state opportunities, including tax incentives and credits.

In addition to our traditional representation of clients in SALT matters, our tax attorneys also represent clients with respect to unclaimed property issues. Clients consult with us regarding the planning and defense of unclaimed property audits, whether instituted by the state department of revenue, secretary of state or other offices of state government, including multistate unclaimed property audits involving third-party contract auditors. We also represent clients in unclaimed property administrative or judicial controversies, as well as negotiate voluntary disclosure agreements on their behalf.

Our Tax Department is comprised of attorneys located throughout the Firm's offices in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee and Washington, D.C. Our tax attorneys have a broad range of practice, including experience with federal, state and local taxation issues, exempt organizations, ERISA and estate planning.

Representative SALT Matters

  • Regularly represent clients in all types of tax audits, before state and local taxing authorities.
  • Successfully concluded a multi-million dollar Tennessee sales and use tax audit.
  • Successfully represented bottling company in regard to Tennessee franchise and excise tax litigation and in privilege tax audits.
  • Represented clients in petitions to waive penalties imposed on Tennessee and Mississippi taxes.
  • Represented numerous and varied public utility clients in contesting property tax valuation and other issues.
  • Represented common carrier client in contesting state motor fuel taxes.
  • Successfully represented client in significant petroleum tax dispute with state department of revenue.
  • Successfully challenged in federal court a Wyoming statute that discriminatorily taxed railroads. Ongoing savings to clients exceeds $7 million annually.
  • Retained as appellate counsel in U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in case involving taxation of labor support company.
  • Successfully overturned trial court's grant summary judgment against client.
  • Obtained decision from Alabama Supreme Court declaring city licensing ordinance unconstitutional as an invalid tax in interstate commerce.
  • Represented a coalition of Tennessee public utilities in state-wide personal property equalization relief resulting in more than $10 million in annual savings.
  • Represented a major railroad in a property tax valuation case in New York State. Client obtained a 25 percent reduction in taxes for all years at issue and obtained a settlement for four additional years with savings amounting to more than $50 million.
  • Successfully defended automobile dealership in class action litigation involving collection of local taxes on vehicle sales.
  • Won appellate case for pipeline companies operating in Tennessee, which will save our clients millions of dollars in property taxes in the coming years.  
  • Represented quarry operator taxpayer in severance tax litigation in overturning adverse position asserted by state department of revenue, where adverse decision would have caused a termination of the business.
  • Obtained favorable ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court for a transportation client holding that the client may challenge Alabama's sales and use tax on diesel fuel under a federal statute that declares it a burden on interstate commerce to discriminatorily tax railroads. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the client had the opportunity to prove discrimination at the trial court level.
  • Obtained an injunction in federal district court in Kansas on behalf of a private container and automobile rack rail car company enjoining the state from assessing and collecting half of the Kansas gross receipts tax. The suit filed on behalf of our client under §11501 claimed that the gross receipts tax at a 2.5% rate greatly exceeded what the tax liability would be under a properly applied property tax. After significant negotiations, the state consented to a permanent injunction enjoining it from collecting a tax any higher than 1.25% of the Kansas gross receipts.
  • Successfully defended automobile dealership in a class action in which plaintiffs claimed that these dealerships had illegally collected the Tennessee Business Tax in association with vehicle sales.
  • Secured a full dismissal of taxes owed for national railroad's Chief Transportation Officer, after taking over case from a Big 4 accounting firm. The officer had received a six figure income tax assessment from the Commonwealth of Virginia for his 2005 and 2006 years while he was with another railroad, due to residency versus nonresidency issues.
  • Successfully challenged in court the constitutionality of a county privilege tax.
  • Regularly negotiate tax incentives at the state and local level for clients throughout the Southeast.
  • Represented an architectural metals company in establishing a business location in East Tennessee and secured favorable tax incentives from Tennessee Department of Revenue and non-tax incentives from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
  • Negotiations on behalf of various clients with the states of Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi in regard to tax incentives available through the tax statutes of each state, and negotiations on behalf of clients for non-tax incentives available through state economic development programs.
  • Successfully completed sales and use tax audits in Tennessee, Georgia, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Texas, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Ohio.
  • Represented automobile finance/lease companies in contesting application of Tennessee sales tax laws and overturning adverse ruling by department of revenue through enactment of new legislation.
  • Represented affiliate companies in contesting nexus asserted by the state of Pennsylvania.
  • Represented various clients in regard to completing nexus questionnaires received from various foreign state jurisdictions.
  • Represented clients in real and personal property tax disputes, including appraisal and classification disputes.
  • Represented clients in obtaining amnesty on voluntary disclosure relief in numerous states.
  • Represented cell tower applicants before municipal councils, commissions and boards of zoning appeals for the placement of wireless towers.