The Law Offices of John P. McDonnell offers a Silicon Valley IRS lawyer and business attorney for clients that need qualified and experienced legal representation.
Our background includes counsel to individuals and businesses that have complex tax problems or are facing tax litigation. Because we are a small firm you will have direct access to an attorney who will work on your behalf to resolve any legal issue that you are facing. We are also available to small and mid-size businesses seeking legal insight or advice for growth and expansion. Our areas of practice include:
Tax Litigation and Audit Representation
The term “tax litigation” conjures up images of lawyers and judges examining witnesses in a formal courtroom, but the work is actually much broader than that, and might be thought of as “tax controversies.”
A tax controversy normally begins with an IRS Agent initiating an audit. Often a routine audit can be handled by the tax return preparer or a CPA, but at times the IRS Agent proposes novel or questionable theories that may require an attorney coming in even at this stage. In those cases, we will develop legal arguments and briefs to submit to the Agent and his supervisors, to suggest that the new theories are not justified and the taxpayer’s actions are correct. At times, we may need to “go upstairs” and request that the IRS National Office review the legal issues and issue what is known at “technical advice” to the local office. Read More
Tax Advice and Tax Planning
Most people would love to never get dragged into a “tax controversy,” and a large part of a “tax practice” is advising clients on the proper structure of transactions or operations, and pointing out opportunities to reduce taxes.
The world of “tax advice” is as broad as the world of business. It can start with advising a business on the best structure (corporation, partnership, limited liability company) to avoid needless taxation, and can expand to advising on tax-advantaged executive compensation, and even to setting up offshore companies for businesses that have certain operations.
Tax advice is often critical when the business owner is looking toward an “exit event”; a merger or sale of the company. The rules for mergers, stock sales and other devices are extremely complex, but with proper planning a tax-free merger or reorganization can be achieved. Similarly, while a sale may seem straightforward, steps taken in preparation for the sale can minimize the potential tax bite. Read More
Sophisticated Estate Planning
True estate planning goes far beyond the commonplace “living trust.” In fact, as a result of the changes in the law in 2010, planning in this area goes well beyond the traditional estate tax and gift tax. The size of the “exemption” from estate tax was increased to $5 million per person in 2010, and has increased to $5.43 million in 2015. This means a husband and wife can have a combined estate of almost $10.9 million and not worry about paying estate tax.
Given the high level of estate tax exemption, many clients have a greater need for advice on minimizing taxation on retirement plans, and reducing the income tax costs (on both the client and the heirs) for eventual transfer of assets to the next generation.
But for those clients lucky enough to have to worry about the estate tax on their large estate, we offer sophisticated advice for reducing those taxes, such as the use of Family Limited Partnerships, Grantor Trusts (GRITS, GRATS and GRUTS), the possible use of a private foundation, and other measures. Read More
Business Advice and Litigation
Having practiced for over 35 years with business clients of all sizes, our firm has often been asked to provide advice and services beyond the tax area. Businesses encounter almost countless legal issues, such as real estate problems, copyright and trademark issues, or disagreements over the scope or enforceability of contracts. Obtaining solid advice on such issues at the outset can often avoid expensive disputes and litigation in the future. For example, a business seeking to raise funds from investors must comply with a large number of state and federal rules, and running afoul of them can result in extremely expensive investor lawsuits in the future.
Invariably, some clients will be embroiled in business litigation, often as victims of some wrongdoing. A supplier may intentionally break a contract as a ploy to renegotiate the deal; trusted employees may steal trade secrets and other intellectual property to set up their own company, a customer may challenge the quality of goods to avoid paying. We have represented clients in both state and federal court on a wide variety of business disputes. Read More