Representative Experience

  • Successfully represented global Fortune 50 technology company in groundbreaking California appellate case involving taxation of foreign dividends and interest expense deductions in a water’s-edge setting.
  • Won $100 million refund for Fortune 50 bank on the issue of whether gross receipts of an out-of-state broker-dealer subsidiary should be included in the bank’s sales factor for apportionment purposes.
  • Successfully resolved dispute related to a New York State Department of Taxation and Finance tax assessment spanning 17 years, which was filed pursuant to a $1.2 billion proof of claim in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

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  • Corporate franchise and income taxes
    • Won lead entertainment industry case before the Indiana Tax Court challenging the Department of Revenue’s controversial use of an audience factor in apportioning income.
    • Secured withdrawal of $49 million corporate income/franchise tax assessment for a global Fortune 50 conglomerate by arguing our client was owed a refund of $20 million.
    • Defeated a $13 million assessment of tax and interest in a unitary combination case for one of the country’s largest automotive retailers.
    • Achieved victory for Fortune 50 travel company in a case involving the proper New York corporate franchise tax sourcing methodology for services provided over the internet.
    • Successfully represented global Fortune 50 pharmaceutical manufacturer by resolving tax disputes totaling over $100 million, spanning 12 years and arising from unitary combination, characterization of income, apportionment and credit utilization issues.
    • Advised Fortune 50 telecommunications company at all stages of California tax controversy, from audit, to administrative protest and appeal, to litigation through appellate courts, in matters involving assessments totaling over $250 million.
    • Successfully defended an international hotel operator’s tax positions in connection with the proper treatment of flow-through entities and credits leading to favorable settlement without resorting to protracted litigation.
    • Handled appeal for an international fashion brand successfully arguing that interest expense incurred to fund a leveraged buyout was non-business wholly allocable to California, the state of commercial domicile.
    • Achieved New Jersey tax court victory for Fortune 100 bank in leading interest addback challenge.
    • Obtained $50 million refund for California-based clothing company in a California unitary tax dispute regarding whether it should be able to deduct 100 percent of its leveraged buyout transaction interest expenses.
    • Represented well-known cable TV network in settlement sparing $21 million in taxes, interest and penalties, in lead entertainment industry case in Indiana challenging DOR’s controversial use of the audience factor.
    • Helped one of largest U.S. companies in turning $500 million California corporate franchise tax assessment into $65 million credit in a complex unitary business and formulary apportionment dispute.
    • Represented Fortune Global 20 client in a California corporate franchise tax case. Obtained some $143.5 million in refunds and reversal of $276.4 million tax, interest and potential penalty assessments.
    • Saved $80 million for two multinational corporations in an FTB dispute involving complex unitary, business/nonbusiness income, apportionment, water’s edge combined report, interest expense, add-back and dividend issues.
    • Represented an American grocery store operator in first case decided in California involving Manufacturers’ Investment Credit and in which FTB’s regulation defining qualified taxpayers was invalidated.
    • Achieved victory for one of California’s most prominent entertainment companies in contentious income tax dispute regarding its claims of California R&D credits, worth more than $4 million to the client.
    • Saved well over $25 million in taxes, penalties and interest for major audio technology company in an FTB protest. At stake was sourcing of royalties for sales factor purposes.
  • Sales and use taxes
    • Defeated False Claims Act suit brought against a luxury cosmetics retailer regarding use tax collection on internet sales based on attributional nexus.
    • Secured sales tax refunds in excess of $40 million for a Fortune 50 telecommunications company on claims involving technology transfer agreements post-Lucent.
    • Achieved victories before Oregon Tax Court and Oregon Supreme Court on the sourcing of sales of electricity and natural gas for apportionment purposes for a foreign-based energy wholesaler.
    • Obtained Advisory Opinion from the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance on the sales tax implications of specific services for a global investment management corporation.
    • Represented a solar energy company in the lead sales and use tax case before the CA Board of Equalization. Case involved the taxability of solar incentives and involved potential liabilities of $10 million+.
    • Represented a transportation manufacturer regarding taxability of intangibles under the California sales and use tax law.
    • Acted for a solar energy company in obtaining an administrative decision worth some $2 million in a California sales and use tax case involving the taxability of solar energy systems.
  • Real and personal property taxes
    • Secured victory before the California Court of Appeal for a Fortune 50 medical device company confirming that embedded software is not subject to property taxation even when it is bundled or prepackaged with computer hardware.
    • Won an issue of first impression at the California Court of Appeal confirming that California property tax law does not require a centrally assessed taxpayer to sue all counties in which it owns property to maintain a refund action.
    • Developed a new standardized valuation table to assess a Fortune 100 television provider’s leased equipment throughout California, bringing uniformity and predictability to the client’s assessments and considerable tax refunds.
    • Achieved a California Court of Appeal ruling in favor of a large telecommunications client, entitling it to reopen the value of all real property at its audited locations.
    • Advised a major technology company throughout the design and construction of a new headquarters building in Silicon Valley. Achieved a favorable post-completion assessment based on fair market value rather than the considerable construction costs.
    • Obtained a superior court writ of mandate for a high-end luxury resort owner, directing the Assessment Appeals Board to grant a new valuation hearing. Convinced the superior court to reject an assessor’s valuation of an owner of a mixed-use office and R&D campus. The proper method of appraisal resulted in substantial tax refunds.
    • Successfully appealed to exclude the value of software from the assessment on a Fortune 100 company’s cutting-edge networking technology equipment.
    • Pursued a refund action for a large gas-tank distributor and on the eve of trial entered into a joint stipulation for dismissal, refund and eligibility for the business inventory exemption. The Exemption was adopted in other counties. 
    • Challenged the Assessment Appeals Board’s finding of a 10 percent economic rent in valuing a national cable television operator’s possessory interest. Convinced the superior court that the evidence did not support the Board’s finding.
    • Achieved proper assessment of possessory interests (i.e., leasehold interests) for a major stevedoring company in various port properties and delivered reductions in value for our client largely without the assistance of an expert and without the need for a contested hearing.
    • Successfully appealed to exclude the value of software from the assessment on a Fortune 100 company’s cutting-edge networking equipment.
    • Won an issue of first interpretation before the California Court of Appeal for a Fortune 50 telecommunications company, confirming that California property tax law does not require a centrally assessed taxpayer to sue all counties in which it owns property to maintain a refund action.
  • Personal income taxes
    • Represented a high-net-worth individual in major California personal income tax case involving residency and sourcing issues, completely abating proposed assessment of approximately $10 million.
    • Successfully reduced personal income tax assessments of $37 million by 90 percent at the protest level in California residency case.
    • Resolved at audit level a high-net-worth individual’s New York residency case, achieving 95 percent reduction of potential assessment in excess of $1 million.
  • Other SALT taxes and issues
    • Defeated $22 million attempt by city and county to impose unprecedented transfer tax on The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco, following its transfer of certain properties between two church corporations.

Practice Area Highlights

  • Pillsbury’s SALT team has advised and represented over 50 percent of the Fortune 100.
  • Regarded as "extremely smart and creative" and "super-responsive" by clients cited in Chambers USA.
  • Recognized by The Legal 500 U.S. for “dedication, technical expertise, responsiveness, and breadth of knowledge.”

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  • U.S. News – Best Lawyers recognizes Pillsbury’s tax practice and its lawyers as leaders for U.S. federal, state and local tax matters.
  • A standout Tax firm in Chambers USA, Pillsbury comprises half of California’s top-ranked SALT lawyers, as well as leading East Coast professionals.