Robert Merten III is a senior associate whose practice focuses on state and local tax and litigation.

As a state and local tax authority, Robert advises and represents clients on all tax types, primarily including income and franchise tax, sales and use tax, and property and transfer tax. Robert is an impassioned litigator who advocates for his clients before administrative bodies as well as trial and appellate courts. In addition to resolving controversy and litigation disputes, whether through favorable settlements or by formal adjudication, Robert also advises clients on multistate tax planning, audit and compliance issues.

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Robert also has substantial experience representing clients in all stages of litigation, from pre-trial strategy through pleadings, discovery, summary judgment, trial and appeal, in other practice areas including business law, entertainment law, intellectual property law, title insurance defense law and consumer finance law.

Representative Experience

Recently litigated then-largest property tax dispute in California regarding a large and diverse property footprint in Los Angeles County for one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies, resulting in an approximately $50 million victory. 


Advised and represented telecommunications company clients on prominent software taxation issues in state court and administrative jurisdictions resulting in tens of million dollars in state sales and use tax refunds.


Advised and represented large computer technology, insurance and automobile manufacturer companies in court and administrative jurisdictions on emerging state income tax apportionment, online revenue and research and development credit issues.

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  • Advised and represented the largest internet retailer in the world, leading industrial gas supplier company, and high technology and telecommunications companies on various multistate sales and use tax issues.
  • Advised major real estate company, investment companies, and energy companies on multiple transaction planning, tax and controversy issues.
  • Represented entertainment companies in high profile intellectual property disputes in state and federal court jurisdictions and binding arbitration proceedings.
  • Represented and advocated for large financial institutions in dozens of state and federal litigation actions on hundreds of claims.
  • Resolved an approximately $40 million professional negligence action at summary judgment stage for title insurance company.
  • Advised professional football team on player grievance arbitration proceedings.

Professional Highlights

“Communications Companies – Voice & Data Property Tax Issues,” Counsel on State Taxation (COST) 2018 Property Tax Workshop, August 2018.


“Implications of the MTC’s Market-Based Sourcing Model Regulations,” with Jeff Friedman and Nick J. Kump, State Tax Notes, March 2018.


“ California Seeks Input on Clean Energy Equipment Tax Exemption,” with Carley A. Roberts and Jessica Allen, Law360, March 2018.

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  • “City of Upland: Blazing a Trail For More Local Taxes By Ballot Initiative,” with Eric J. Coffill, Law360, September 2017.
  • “Imposing Documentary Transfer Taxes in California after Ardmore,” with Eric J. Coffill and Nick J. Kump, Law360, July 2017.
  • “Taxes, Fees, and ‘Something Else’: California’s Morning Star Decision,” with Eric J. Coffill, State Tax Notes, June 2017.
  • Co-Author, Bloomberg BNA, California Pass-Through Entity Navigator, 2017 – present.
  • “Trends and Developments in Alternative Apportionment of State Income,” with Chris Lutz and Nick J. Kump, State Tax Notes, May 2017.
  • “California Legislative Committee Holds Information Hearing on Lucent and Administering California’s Technology Transfer Agreement Law,” Legal Alert, February 2017.
  • “Nortel, Lucent, and Taxing Embedded Software in California Under a Technology Transfer Agreement,” with Eric J. Coffill and Nick J. Kump, Journal of Multistate Taxation and Incentives, January 2017.
  • Co-author, Bloomberg BNA, California Corporation Income Tax Portfolio, 2016 – present.
  • “MTC Nearing Completion of Model Sourcing Regulation for Services and Intangibles,” Legal Alert, July 2015.
  • Associations
    • Member, Tax Section, State Bar of California
    • Member, Litigation Section, State Bar of California
    • Member, Institute for Professionals in Taxation
  • Presentations
    • “Property Tax,” 2018 Cable Tax Policy Meeting, March 2018, Charleston, SC.
    • “Property Tax 101 and 102,” client tax team presentations, 2018, various.
    • “Property Tax Disputes – Best Practices,” Tax Executives Institute, Silicon Valley Institute, December 2017, Santa Clara, CA.
    • “Property Taxes in Nebraska, Kansas, Texas and Minnesota,” Tax Executives Institute, Nebraska Chapter, September 2017, Webinar
    • “Back to the Future of Federal Tax Reform? The State Tax Implications,” Tax Executives Institute, Region IX & X Annual Conference, June 2017, Las Vegas, NV.
    • “Understanding the State Tax Controversy Lifecycle,” Tax Executives Institute, Columbus Chapter, December 2016, Columbus, OH.
    • “What’s New with Transfer Pricing?,” Tax Executives Institute, Columbus Chapter, December 2016, Columbus, OH.
    • “Current State Tax Developments in California and Other Western States,” Tax Executives Institute, Denver Chapter, May 2016, Denver, CO.

Education

  • J.D., University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Berkeley Law), 2008
    Advocacy Top Honors

    B.A., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2005
    Summa cum laude, College Honors, Outstanding Graduating Senior Prize

Admissions

  • California

Courts

  • U.S. District Court for the Central, Eastern, Northern and Southern Districts of California

    U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit