Tax Controversy


We represent clients in all phases of tax controversy matters. Early involvement in a tax controversy often results in a favorable resolution at the exam or appeals level, which saves our clients from the costs (and risks) of tax litigation. Maintaining an excellent reputation with federal, state and local tax authorities can benefit clients throughout the tax controversy process.

When a tax audit is at the exam phase, effective legal counsel sometimes requires dealing directly with the examining agent. Other times it makes sense to provide “behind the scenes” assistance to a client’s own tax personnel. Either way, we are experienced in marshaling facts, developing legal theories and preparing write-ups on the key factual and tax issues. We also handle tax litigation in the United States Tax Court and the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals and other federal and state courts.

Frederick N. Widen, a Cleveland-based partner at Ulmer & Berne LLP, has been nationally recognized as a Client Service All-Star by BTI Consulting Group. The honor extends to a select group of elite attorneys who provide the absolute best in client service, going above and beyond the call of duty...

Representative Experience

  • Successfully defended owner/operator of Texas hunting ranch from IRS attempt to apply passive activity rules to disallow substantial losses. After prior counsel’s efforts resulted in complete disallowance of losses at the exam and appeals levels, the firm was retained and able to obtain full concession by the IRS in Tax Court proceedings.
  • Represented a client whose substantial gambling losses were disallowed at exam level. The firm was retained and achieved full concession by the IRS in Tax Court and appeals division proceedings.
  • Assisted a client who failed to report substantial income in resolving the matter at exam level and without referral to the IRS criminal investigation division.
  • Represented a co-owner of hardware stores in reversing 46 determinations by the state Department of Taxation that the client was personally liable for unpaid company sales taxes.
  • Represented metal fabricating client in achieving a 90% reduction of a proposed assessment in an IRS appeals office settlement of an audit involving tax accounting issues.
  • Obtained full concession of unreasonable compensation and constructive dividend issues in IRS appeals office settlement of an audit of a rural telephone company.
  • Represented client in obtaining a discharge in bankruptcy of federal taxes in excess of $4 million and an award of attorney fees.
  • Represented a corporation that had purchased inventory with currency and was unable to provide the IRS with proper documentation. Developed an analytical approach, based upon industry standard, for costs of purchased items that resulted in a very favorable settlement.
  • Represented partners of an investment securities partnership that abandoned their partnership interests. After full disallowance of loss at the exam level, we obtained full concession from the appeals division of the IRS that taxpayers were entitled to ordinary loss treatment.
  • Represented limited partner of an equipment leasing tax shelter in obtaining denial of IRS motion for summary judgment in US Tax Court. Later obtained full concession of the matter by the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Represented executive in obtaining an offer in compromise eliminating more than $1 million of trust fund payroll tax liability.
  • Successfully utilized federal district court proceedings to achieve reversal of IRS determination that corporate officer of security guard firm was personally liable for $250,000 of unpaid trust fund payroll taxes.
  • Represented numerous clients in obtaining discharges of federal and state tax liens.
  • Represented real estate investor in IRS audit concerning application of at risk limitations and debt allocation provisions of the tax code.
  • Represented corporation in obtaining settlement that permitted a portion of the proceeds from the sale of management contracts as exempt from federal income tax.
  • Represented an electrical medical systems company in obtaining Ohio Board of Appeals ruling that diagnostic imaging equipment is exempt from sales tax as manufacturing equipment.
  • Represented protective services firm in obtaining determination from Ohio Department of Taxation that provision of security services by off-duty police officers are not subject to sales tax.