Overview

Mayer Brown’s State & Local Tax (SALT) group, comprising nationally recognized tax professionals, brings a deep bench of practical experience to the four pillars of our practice: substantive precision, creativity, teamwork and relationship-building with governmental decision makers. We strive to be trusted advisors on all types of SALT issues: audit defense and litigation, complex business restructuring, legislative guidance, planning and consulting.

We regularly partner with our firm’s federal Tax group to add value and insight to our SALT practice, and we have addressed issues with regard to a broad array of tax types, including corporate income and franchise, gross receipts, sales and use, real property transfer, utility, business license and personal income taxes. We also regularly advise clients on unclaimed property matters.

We serve a diverse client base, spanning Fortune 100 companies, start-ups and family offices in various industries, including financial services, insurance, energy, technology, retail, entertainment, food and real estate. We are globally recognized as a top-tier practice by Chambers USA, Legal 500 United States and International Tax Review.

We work with our clients to mitigate state and local tax risks and avoid tax assessments. If clients are faced with assessments, we work with administrative agencies to obtain favorable, confidential settlements. When settlement is not possible, we have the resources and experience to litigate even the most complex state tax questions “all the way up.” Our lawyers have been involved in many of the groundbreaking SALT decisions around the country. For example, our firm won Polar Tankers v. City of Valdez before the United States Supreme Court, a closely watched case among state and local tax practitioners.

Mayer Brown’s SALT professionals are highly regarded and well respected. Several team members began their careers litigating matters on behalf of federal, state and local departments of revenue and currently serve on government-organized advisory boards. Our experience on both sides of the aisle allows us to provide innovative and cost-effective solutions to most state or local tax issues. Our lawyers are frequent contributors to leading SALT publications and regularly present at nationwide tax conferences.

Highlights

Experience

A sampling of our recent projects includes:

  • Cosmetics company: Litigating whether paying to advertise on a Times Square billboard constitutes “renting a premises” for New York City Commercial Rent Tax purposes.
  • Homebuilding company: Litigating in New Jersey whether holding a limited partnership interest creates a tax liability for the partner and whether a final determination letter is entitled to a presumption of correctness.
  • Food company: Litigated in New Jersey the assertion of nexus against an intellectual property licensor when the related licensee had already added back the royalty deduction.
  • Gaming company: Litigating in New Jersey whether the licensing of a patent by a Nevada company to another Nevada company establishes nexus of the patent licensor in New Jersey, where the licensee has gaming machines in New Jersey that have software (coded in Nevada) that use the patented method.
  • IT service company: Litigating New Jersey’s inclusion of non-effectively connected income in entire net income.
  • Food company: Litigating the constitutionality of New Jersey’s imposition of different alternative minimum tax rates based on whether companies are protected by P.L. 86-272.
  • Major department store: Defending an audit involving the securitization of credit card receivables.
  • Major discount retailer: Defending an audit involving a forced combination for income tax purposes.
  • Credit card processor: Assisted a registered lobbyist with efforts to get legislation passed in Missouri to restore a manufacturing exemption.
  • Major food/beverage chain: Assisting with determination of whether it qualifies as a “manufacturer” for purposes of New York state’s zero-percent tax rate. 
  •  Family office of a well-known entrepreneur: Assisting with a New Jersey transfer pricing audit for an aircraft leasing subsidiary and with sales tax determinations for an art collection.
  • Major car dealership: Assisting with an Illinois sales tax audit and trade-in credit claims.
  • Privately owned media company: Assisting with state tax planning for phantom income resulting from a state’s decoupling from federal depreciation.
  • Several online service providers: Assisting with determinations of sales tax imposition and the states’ sales for which tax should be collected.
  • Major movie theater chain: Assisted with recomputations of historic net operating losses to incorporate New York City and New York state adjustments.
  • Foreign manufacturer: Assisting with multi-state voluntary disclosures for income tax and sales tax.
  • Several real estate and private equity funds: Evaluated the state and local tax impact of making and exiting investments.
  • Global retailer: Assisted with a Mississippi audit challenge to intercompany pricing.
  • International manufacturer and distributor of beverages: Assisted with Massachusetts’ denial of an exception to the add-back of deductions for interest on intercompany loans and the scope of the “unreasonable” and treaty exceptions.
  • Global retailer: Assisting with Massachusetts’ claim that, due to the purchase of product sold by a retailer that is purchased from an affiliate, the seller is a manufacturer and must use a single-sales factor apportionment formula.
  • London-based insurance broker: Assisted in an unclaimed property risk evaluation.
  • Canadian-based bank: Assisted with US state and local real property transfer tax implications of restructuring.
  • Clothing manufacturer: Structured the sale of a business and a building to reduce risks of multiple layers of transfer tax imposition and advising on the SALT impact of gain.
  • Private equity investment: Defending an audit involving the application of federal basis adjustment rules to New York City unincorporated business tax.