Tax Controversy

Zuckerman Spaeder helps entrepreneurs and organizations handle their most challenging tax issues.

With a thorough understanding of IRS procedure, deep knowledge of substantive tax areas, and the skill to advocate a position before the IRS or, if necessary, in court, we represent individuals and companies in all types of tax controversies.

The 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, 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.

Our tax litigation team has tried cases to verdict in U.S. District Courts around 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.


We represent clients in all types of civil tax examinations, including income tax examinations of corporations and individuals, partnership examinations, employment tax examinations, promoter and preparer penalty examinations, and preparer penalty examinations. 

We have experience with a broad range of issues ranging from the proper reporting of income and deductions to foreign information reporting and associated penalties, prohibited transactions, and withholding obligations related to payments to foreign recipients. We are especially sensitive to “eggshell audits,” where civil examinations run the risk of evolving into criminal investigations. In addition, we represent tax professionals before the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility. Our goal is to resolve the underlying dispute without having to resort to litigation.

Civil tax litigation

Civil litigation can be costly. We work with our clients to define case-specific objectives that allow the matter to be handled within the client’s financial constraints. 

We know substantive and procedural tax laws, so we evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each case to advise the client on risks and devise a strategy to obtain a favorable settlement or, if necessary, persuasively advance their position at trial.

Criminal tax violations

Described as “a haven for clients in trouble,” by The American Lawyer, we often apply our white collar defense experience to clients with criminal tax issues. Our detailed understanding of the investigative tools 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 in order to avoid prosecution.

When necessary, our team of former government regulators, enforcers, prosecutors, and defenders supports our tax practice to litigate at trial and counter the government’s case. We have tried criminal tax cases to verdict and, when clients decide trial is not in their best interests, negotiated plea agreements for favorable sentences. Our team has also handled criminal tax appeals in federal and state courts of appeal.