Civil Tax Litigation

Taxpayers, regardless of whether a business, individual or estate, often face civil tax controversies with the Internal Revenue Service, a state Department of Revenue or Board of Equalization. These controversies may include: income, estate employment or sales tax audits, administrative appeals, penalty determinations, lien filings, property seizures, and compliance problems such as failure to file returns, failure to pay taxes or failure to comply with reporting requirements. If the controversy is not resolved administratively, it will end up in court, or worse, referred for criminal investigation. You need an experienced, knowledgeable and proven lawyer to represent you.

We are taxpayer advocates

We understand the magnitude of how much is at stake and want to help relieve the overwhelming stress on a client. Our goal is to help guide taxpayers, and often their advisors, through the administrative process when a controversy arises, and if necessary, successfully defend them in court.

We Are Not Just Tax Specialists, But Seasoned Litigators

Over a combined 50 years of experience, we have developed the requisite skills by both working for taxing authorities and litigating against them. We have represented clients in almost every conceivable type of business, and have dealt with a full spectrum of tax issues that arise in civil tax controversies. Robert Chicoine Law has represented clients in various matters including:

  • abusive tax shelters investments
  • criminal prosecutions through negotiated voluntary disclosures
  • business and estate valuation disputes
  • audits and investigations by the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Revenue

We appreciate the confidence our past clients and peers have shown in our integrity and abilities by choosing Robert Chicoine Law as one of the Northwest’s Best Law Firms and Robert Chicoine as one of the top taxation and tax controversy lawyers in the country.

Sample of Significant Cases We've Handled


  • Gitlitz v. United States, 531 U.S. 206 (2001). Successfully argued that under IRC § 108, shareholders of an S corporation could increase their basis by their share of the corporation’s discharge of indebtedness income even though the income was excludable, thus allowing them to deduct the full amount of the corporation’s losses which would otherwise not have been deductible.


  • Pacific Fisheries v. United States, 539 F.3d 1143 (9th Cir. 2008). In case involving the adequacy of the government’s disclosure in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, obtained reversal of the district court’s decision that the IRS was not required to segregate and produce factual portions of documents and that the IRS properly applied the tax convention treaty information exemption in FOIA. The case has been cited over 160 times.


  • Sala v. United States, 552F. Supp. 2d 1167 (D. Colo. 2008). After a nearly two week trial, the firm was the first to prevail in a “Son of Boss” tax shelter case.
  • Pacific Fisheries, Inc. v. Internal Revenue Service, 2:04-cv-2436 (W.D. Wash.). Obtained over $17,000 in attorney’s fees from the IRS as a result of its conduct in responding to Freedom of Information Act requests.


  • Estate of George Bartell Jr., v. Comm’r, 147 T.C. No. 5 (August 10, 2016). Prevailed in case involving a reverse 1031 exchange for a build-to-suit property for an S corporation drug store chain.
  • First Northwest Industries of America v. Comm’r, 70 T.C. 817 (1978). Test case on the tax treatment of purchase of professional sports franchise (Seattle Supersonics).
  • Purvis v. Comm’r, 65 T.C. 1165 (1976). Precedent case on the ownership of live insurance for estate tax purposes.
  • Hansel v. Comm’r. T.C. Docket 006732-09. Tax Shelter Innocent Spouse Issues.
  • Turnipseed v. Comm’r. T.C. Memo 1985-335 (1985). Taxability of Tribal gaming business under federal law.


  • Todd Bentley v. State of California. Appeal Case ID No. 593582. Employment Contract Settlement tax dispute.

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