Tax Controversy

Civil Litigation
White Collar & Investigations
Regulatory & Compliance

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the only federal agency with which virtually every individual and business interacts. Those dealings may result in controversies of various kinds, including audits, penalty disputes, promoter investigations, summons proceedings, lien and levy matters, employment tax disputes, and “innocent spouse” claims. In more serious cases, the IRS may initiate a criminal investigation, or a criminal investigation of another issue may expand to include potential criminal tax violations.

Zuckerman Spaeder LLP’s tax attorneys have a thorough understanding of IRS procedure, a working knowledge of substantive tax areas, and the skill to advocate a position before the IRS or, if necessary, in court. Our tax litigation team, which includes a former Assistant Attorney General of the Tax Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ), has tried cases to verdict in a number of U.S. District Courts throughout the country, in the U.S. Tax Court, and in state courts. They have also briefed and argued cases in several U.S. Courts of Appeal.

Where a client is the subject of multiple parallel proceedings involving both criminal and civil tax issues, understanding the relationship among the various divisions of the IRS, the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, and the Department of Justice is crucial. Daily monitoring of developments in the IRS’s enforcement priorities and litigating positions, as well as regular participation in professional organizations, provides us with up-to-date knowledge of the field and the ability to communicate with government representatives at all levels.

Experience Highlights

Zuckerman Spaeder’s attorneys have substantial experience litigating complex civil tax cases in all of the available courts. We have tried many cases to verdict, resolved cases on dispositive motions prior to trial, and successfully negotiated settlements with the government while in litigation. As a result of our experience with and understanding of the substantive and procedural tax laws, we are skilled at evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of a particular case. This enables us to advise clients on their litigation risks, to devise a consistent strategy for all stages of litigation, to negotiate a favorable settlement by presenting the government with a convincing critique of its litigation position, and, if necessary, to persuasively advance a client’s position at trial.

Because of our litigation experience, we are uniquely situated to challenge subpoenas issued to third-party witnesses on privilege or other grounds and to prepare third-party witnesses for testifying in a deposition or at trial.


Zuckerman Spaeder has extensive experience representing clients who are under investigation by the IRS for criminal tax violations. Our detailed understanding of the investigatory skills that the IRS employs and the procedures that the IRS must follow to refer a case to the DOJ for prosecution enables us to effectively advocate for our clients and to avoid prosecution. We also have significant experience defending clients in criminal tax prosecutions. We have tried criminal tax cases to verdict and, when a client decides that a trial is not in his or her best interests, negotiated plea agreements that have resulted in favorable sentences.

We closely follow the IRS’s current crackdown on undisclosed foreign bank accounts. We have represented clients under investigation for having an undisclosed foreign bank account, as well as clients seeking to pay taxes on an undisclosed foreign bank account as part of the IRS’s voluntary disclosure programs (including the current Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative). In addition, we have represented clients who have pleaded guilty to having a foreign bank account and obtained favorable sentences that are well below the ranges in the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.


Zuckerman Spaeder has substantial experience representing clients in all types of civil tax examinations, including income tax examinations of corporations and individuals, partnership examinations, employment tax examinations, promoter penalty examinations, and preparer penalty examinations. In addition, we have represented clients in collections matters where a lien or levy has been filed, and have represented tax professionals before the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). In most cases, we are able to resolve the underlying dispute without having to resort to litigation.

In 2009, the IRS launched a new enforcement unit to examine the tax compliance of wealthy Americans living here and abroad. We have represented several clients facing these global high-net-worth examinations, which are akin to a large corporate examination.