Patterson Belknap's tax attorneys are involved in every aspect of the firm's practice. Our strengths include the breadth of our tax law experience and our firm-wide collaborative approach to achieving results for our clients. Our tax attorneys work closely with attorneys in the Corporate, Real Estate, Intellectual Property, Tax-Exempt Organizations, Trusts and Estates and Litigation Groups, and they counsel clients who come to the firm especially for its tax expertise.
Based on the particular needs and business objectives of each client, we analyze the merits of different ownership structures, counsel on the requirements of tax law, or address the long- and short-term tax implications of business transactions and investments in the United States and internationally. Our tax attorneys also have extensive knowledge of life insurance and other insurance products and the tax ramifications of various insurance programs. And, because many of our clients are committed to contributing to the public good, we counsel on tax-efficient means of charitable giving. Our work in the industry has earned us recognition in publications such as U.S. News - Best Lawyers® survey of "Best Law Firms."
Meeting Tax Goals
Our tax attorneys provide advice on corporate, partnership, trust and individual tax matters, with an emphasis on coordinating clients' federal, state, local and foreign tax goals. Although their primary role is in income tax planning, they also represent clients in planning for other taxes (such as sales taxes, transfer taxes and private foundation excise taxes). Our tax attorneys also represent clients in court and administrative proceedings, as well as in federal, state and local audits and in protests against proposed tax deficiencies.
Structuring Business Transactions
The firm advises major domestic and international companies on structuring business acquisitions and dispositions in a tax‑efficient manner. Recently, for example, our tax attorneys structured such transactions as: a global alliance between a domestic corporation in the television broadcast industry and a United Kingdom counterpart for the purpose of creating satellite channels around the world, and a restructuring of a group of commonly owned corporations into a holding company structure in anticipation of an initial public offering.
From these larger transactions, our attorneys gain knowledge and experience that is invaluable in serving the needs of smaller, growing businesses. They often assist clients in creating joint ventures or in refinancing a business in order to develop new product lines, expand in new territories or acquire new subsidiaries.
High Net Worth Individuals
Our tax attorneys draw on their experience in structuring large business transactions to advise high net worth individuals on how best to achieve tax and personal planning objectives.
Assisting with Reporting and Compliance
The Tax Department routinely prepares requests for private letter rulings, technical advice memoranda and determination letters, as well as in drafting memoranda and opinion letters supporting positions taken by our clients on their tax returns. We work closely with clients and their accountants to establish internal reporting procedures and make sure that their computer systems produce the type of data needed for the preparation of their tax returns. We have become increasingly involved in litigation focusing on state and federal estate tax issues.
Representing Clients in a Variety of Deals
Working on teams with their colleagues in other departments, our tax attorneys enhance the firm’s capabilities in numerous areas:
- In real estate, they assist owners in structuring like kind exchanges, advise developers on the tax consequences or optimal tax structures for development properties and assist domestic and foreign investors in the purchase and sale of previously developed real property. Many clients come to the firm especially for advice of this nature, as well as advice on minimizing the tax costs associated with restructuring the debt or ownership of troubled properties and the entities that own them. In this regard, the firm is proud of its accomplishments in minimizing the state and local taxes that may be imposed on the transfer of interests in real property that often accompany such restructurings.
- With the firm's employee benefits lawyers, our attorneys design and negotiate tax efficient stock option plans, deferred compensation agreements, and executive employment contracts, and provide income and estate tax counseling for executives with regard to employer provided benefits.
- Handling the unique tax problems of not for profit institutions is one of Patterson Belknap's strengths. We regularly counsel tax-exempt clients on investment matters, including joint ventures with for-profit organizations, the potential excise tax on prohibited transactions, and other excise tax issues raised by such investments.
- We review on behalf of tax-exempt clients the tax implications of participating in real estate, venture capital, hedge fund and other investment programs to minimize the tax on unrelated business income and to protect private foundation clients from excess business holdings and self dealing excise taxes. We have secured noteworthy rulings from the IRS on issues of first impression involving such questions as the tax consequences of trading in stock index futures and other arbitrage programs. Our attorneys are charter members of a small group of nationally based lawyers, sponsored by the not for profit community, that deals directly with the Treasury in legislative and regulatory projects.
- In conjunction with attorneys in the Trusts and Estates Group, we counsel wealthy individuals and families on preserving capital and restructuring family wealth in a way that will minimize gift, estate and generation skipping taxes while disturbing their existing financial picture as little as possible. We have considerable experience in the use of trusts, including, charitable split-interest trusts, as a method for reducing both transfer and income taxes and in handling estates involving substantial pension benefits.