Shawn is a US Tax Controversy Leader
International Tax Review's Tax Controversy Leaders 2017 (7th Edition)

Overview

Shawn O'Brien is a Tax partner who represents clients in all types of tax disputes with taxing authorities on international, federal and state levels. He routinely advises clients on various tax issues during tax examinations, in administrative appeals and as an advocate in trial and appellate litigation before the US Tax Court, US District Courts and US Court of Federal Claims. Shawn's tax controversy and litigation experience spans a broad range of areas, including transfer pricing controversies, debt v. equity issues, international withholdings, advance pricing agreements, "tax shelter" disallowances, research and development tax credits, excise taxes, changes in accounting methods, Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP), Streamline Program, Domestic Production Activities Deduction (section 199), Micro-Captive Insurance, related party transactions, basket options transactions, repatriation structures, inbound distributors, alternative minimum tax (AMT) preference items, and foreign tax credits.

Shawn advises foreign and domestic corporations, partnerships, MLPs, REITS, and LLCs seeking corporate and tax advice in connection with various types of foreign and domestic transactions, including 1031 exchanges, mergers and acquisitions, restructurings, divestitures, leveraged buyouts, structured financings, and oil and gas transactions. Shawn is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in Louisiana.

Shawn served on the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council (IRSAC) where he was Chair of the Large Business & International (LB&I) subcommittee. IRSAC was created to provide an organized public forum for IRS officials and representatives of the public to discuss key tax administration issues. IRSAC provides the IRS Commissioner and divisions leadership with important feedback, observations, and suggestions.

Shawn is particularly focused on a variety of tax issues facing the energy industry including tax controversy, joint ventures, restructuring, acquisition and disposition of energy assets. Shawn served as Chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee of the State Bar of Texas Tax Section from 2011 to 2013.

According to International Tax Review's "World Tax" 2016, Mayer Brown's Houston tax practice is ranked Tier 1 and is "known for its sophisticated transactional tax and tax controversy work. Clients recognize the quality of its lawyers, many of whom have extensive backgrounds in the energy sector. The practice is strong in international tax, and advises both US and non-US multinationals on their energy investments. The practice is also strong in transfer pricing and controversy, and has represented clients in some of the biggest transfer pricing disputes filed in US courts. The Houston practice is led by Shawn O'Brien, who focuses on tax controversy."

Shawn is ranked in Chambers USA 2017 Tax: Litigation – Texas.

Shawn O'Brien is a Tax partner who represents clients in all types of tax disputes with taxing authorities on international, federal and state levels. He routinely advises clients on various tax issues during tax examinations, in administrative appeals and as an advocate in trial and appellate litigation before the US Tax Court, US District Courts and US Court of Federal Claims. Shawn's tax controversy and litigation experience spans a broad range of areas, including transfer pricing controversies, debt v. equity issues, international withholdings, advance pricing agreements, "tax shelter" disallowances, research and development tax credits, excise taxes, changes in accounting methods, Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP), Streamline Program, Domestic Production Activities Deduction (section 199), Micro-Captive Insurance, related party transactions, basket options transactions, repatriation structures, inbound distributors, alternative minimum tax (AMT) preference items, and foreign tax credits.

Shawn advises foreign and domestic corporations, partnerships, MLPs, REITS, and LLCs seeking corporate and tax advice in connection with various types of foreign and domestic transactions, including 1031 exchanges, mergers and acquisitions, restructurings, divestitures, leveraged buyouts, structured financings, and oil and gas transactions. Shawn is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in Louisiana.

Shawn serves on the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council (IRSAC) where he is a member of the Large Business & International (LB&I) subcommittee. IRSAC was created to provide an organized public forum for IRS officials and representatives of the public to discuss key tax administration issues. IRSAC provides the IRS Commissioner and divisions leadership with important feedback, observations, and suggestions.

Shawn is particularly focused on a variety of tax issues facing the energy industry including tax controversy, joint ventures, restructuring, acquisition and disposition of energy assets. Shawn served as Chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee of the State Bar of Texas Tax Section from 2011 to 2013.

According to International Tax Review's "World Tax" 2016, Mayer Brown's Houston tax practice is ranked Tier 1 and is "known for its sophisticated transactional tax and tax controversy work. Clients recognize the quality of its lawyers, many of whom have extensive backgrounds in the energy sector. The practice is strong in international tax, and advises both US and non-US multinationals on their energy investments. The practice is also strong in transfer pricing and controversy, and has represented clients in some of the biggest transfer pricing disputes filed in US courts. The Houston practice is led by Shawn O'Brien, who focuses on tax controversy."

Mayer Brown was recently named Tax Controversy Team of the Year for the second consecutive year in the Legal 500 United States Awards. "Mayer Brown is 'among the best' and fields a large team…dedicated exclusively to tax controversy and transfer pricing," said Legal 500 and its sources in the US edition. The firm is "regularly seen in the most high-profile controversy cases before the US Tax Court" and produced "yet another impressive run of work" in 2014. Additionally, the practice has been honored by the International Tax Review as the North America Tax Disputes Firm of the Year, US Tax Court Firm of the Year, US Transfer Pricing Firm of the Year, North America Transfer Pricing Firm of the Year, Chicago Transfer Pricing Firm of the Year, Dallas/Houston Tax Firm of the Year, San Francisco Area Transfer Pricing Firm of the Year, San Francisco Area Tax Firm of the Year, and Washington, DC Tax Firm of the Year.

Highlights

Experience

Tax Controversy and Litigation Matters:

  • Representation of a publicly traded oil and gas exploration and production company in the US Tax Court related to a tax dispute involving the alternative minimum tax.
  • Representation of a publicly traded multi-national oil and gas exploration and production company in the US Tax Court related to foreign tax credits and deductions.
  • Representation of a publicly traded building products company in the US Tax Court related to contingent liability management company transaction.
  • Representation of an estate of a high-net worth individual in the US Court of Federal Claims related to the valuation of interests an exploration and production company held by the estate.
  • Representation of major integrated energy company in the US Court of Federal Claims related to the company’s eligibility of tax credits for the production of crude oil from tar sands.
  • Representation of major integrated energy company in the US District Court in the Southern District of Texas related to a structured transaction.
  • Representation of a major, publicly traded pharmaceutical company in the US District Court of New Jersey related to discovery matters in a case involving repatriation of earnings to the US.
  • Representation of a publicly traded waste collection company before IRS Appeals and in preparation for litigation related to federal motor fuels excise tax.
  • Representation of a multi-national mining company during an IRS examination related to a structured transaction and abandonment loss deductions.
  • Representation of a multi-national refinery during an IRS examination and IRS Appeals related to an issue involving inventory versus capitalization.
  • Representation of a Latin American based, engineering, procurement, and construction company during an IRS examination related to offshore assets.
  • Representation of over 125 high-net worth individuals during an IRS examination involving structured transactions that IRS labeled as tax shelters.
  • Representation of a tax preparer during an IRS tax promoter examination involving the sale of structured transactions that IRS labeled as tax shelters.

Tax Transactions and Tax Controversy Matters:

  • Tax advice to a multi-national consumer products company related to the tax consequences of the transfer of intellectual property and repatriation of foreign earnings.
  • Tax advice to a publicly traded refinery related to a substantial intercompany loan and whether the loan qualified as debt for federal income tax purposes.
  • Tax advice to a substantial foreign based airline involving the federal excise taxes applicable to air transportation services.
  • Transfer pricing advice and drafting intercompany services agreements for a joint venture of two publicly traded oilfield service companies for purposes of the joint venture’s global transfer pricing plan.
  • Tax and corporate representation of a foreign based engineering, procurement, and construction company in its acquisition of a engineering business from a large private equity fund.
  • Tax advice to foreign owned oil and gas exploration and production company related to debt v. equity issues involving the new Section 385 regulations.
  • Tax advice to a publicly traded engineering, procurement, and construction  company related to moving the company’s US headquarters to a foreign jurisdiction. 
  • Tax advice to a foreign owned energy company vessel owner regarding an offshore Master Limited Partnership structure.      
  • Tax advice to a number of publicly traded oil and gas refinery companies related to the federal motor fuels excise tax on diesel and gasoline exported to Mexico.
  • Transfer pricing advice to a multi-national drill pipe manufacturer related to the arms-length interest rate on a substantial intercompany loan guaranteed by its foreign parent corporation
  • Tax advice related to a multi-national drill pipe manufacturer related to the IRC section 165(g)(3) worthless stock and IRC section 166 worthless debt deductions.
  • Tax and corporate advice to a Latin American based, engineering, procurement, and construction company implementing a European holding company structure.
  • Ongoing tax advice to a publicly traded financial institution related to various financial product tax issues.
  • Tax advice related to a multi-national trading company related to the IRC section 165(g)(3) worthless stock deduction.
  • Drafted a tax sharing agreement for federal, state, and local taxes for a consolidated group of media and entertainment companies.
  • Tax advice to publicly traded REIT clients regarding various substantial section 1031 forward and reverse like-kind exchange transactions.
  • Tax advice to a publicly traded oilfield service company related to net operating loss carrybacks, tentative refund claims, and Joint Committee of Taxation approval.

Education

New York University School of Law, LLM, Taxation

Loyola Law School, JD, Loyola Law Review, Case Note Editor
Loyola Moot Court

Admissions

  • Texas
  • Louisiana

Court

  • US Tax Court
  • US District Court for the Southern District of Texas
  • US Court of Federal Claims