Pierce Atwood’s State and Local Tax attorneys work with sophisticated business and individual clients to solve complex local and multistate tax problems. Our focused practice, with deep expertise in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island tax matters, and a multistate perspective, allows us to provide practical and efficient representation to our clients. This means we are as adept at advising national and multinational businesses on New England tax issues as we are at guiding local clients through 50-state dilemmas. We advise clients in all corners of state and local tax law, from business transactions and tax planning, to policy and legislative work, to audit defense, litigation, and dispute resolution. 

In addition to the areas of expertise listed below, our tax attorneys handle myriad other issues, including residency issues for individuals and trusts, insurance premiums taxes, hospital taxes, tree growth taxes, and unclaimed property issues.

Income & Franchise Taxes

Our team serves clients with every variety of Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire income, business profits and financial institution franchise tax issues from nexus, to tax base, apportionment and credits. In addition to handling controversies at all levels, from audit to state supreme courts, our attorneys provide assistance with planning, including entity structure issues.

Property Tax

We have decades of experience with both planning and appeals arising from real and personal property taxes in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island that involves appeals starting at the local level, through State Boards and trial courts and all the way up to the state supreme courts. We can help obtain tax abatements, business property tax reimbursements or exemptions.

Examples of our property tax abatement work include pulp and paper mills, power plants, interstate pipelines, electric utility systems, federal superfund sites, hotels, real estate developments, telecommunications assets, summer camps, shopping malls, and high-end residential properties.

Sales & Use Taxes, Other Transactional Taxes

Our tax attorneys are called upon to assist clients with a full range of sales and use tax issues in Maine and Massachusetts, as well as nexus issues arising in other states as a result of remote sales, activities of affiliates or independent contractors, remote use of servers or programming and other activities. We help clients with issues arising from other transactional taxes in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, including real estate transfer taxes, meals and lodging taxes, service provider taxes and fuel taxes.

Representative Experience

In a property tax refund case filed on behalf of the largest hotel in Rhode Island, we obtained a judgment for $2.44 million, plus interest, in December 2017 following a trial. The judgment represented the amount of excess property taxes paid by the hotel during 2013-2015 as a result of an inflated assessment of the hotel’s value.

$2.44 Million Judgment in Property Tax Refund Case

We secured a favorable resolution for technology corporation in a tax dispute with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. The appeal was settled two weeks before trial, saving the client in excess of $30 million of assessed sales and use tax, interest, and penalties. The Department of Revenue’s assessment was a result of our client’s failure to document or demonstrate, during a multi-year audit, that tax had been paid or that the transactions at issue were tax exempt. Working with the client, we retrieved archived documentation, located in-house and third party witnesses, and leveraged strong relationships with department attorneys to achieve a successful outcome.

$30 Million Savings in Sales & Use Tax Dispute

Obtained full abatement at the administrative appeal level in Maine for telecommunications services provider of income tax assessment resulting from inclusion in tax base of dividends from a non-unitary partnership.

Abatement for Telecommunications Provider

Our SALT team obtained an advisory ruling from Maine Revenue Services for an information services company that further clarified when subscriptions for services that include digitally transmitted publications will be subject to Maine sales or use tax.

Advisory Ruling Obtained for Info Services Company

Designed, drafted and lobbied on behalf of manufacturers and other industrial clients a business property tax reimbursement program providing full reimbursement for most business equipment ("BETR"), and subsequently a property tax exemption for business equipment ("BETE"). Worked to achieve annual funding of these programs.

Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement (BETR) and the Business Equipment Tax Exemption (BETE) Programs

We achieved complete cancellation of a Maine income tax assessment against our nonresident client who was claimed to have been domiciled in Maine.

Cancellation of Nonresident Income Tax

Represented several aircraft owners in defeating use tax assessments against aircraft. Succesfully advocated for new sales and use tax exemptions for aircraft and aircraft parts.

Defeated Use Tax Assessments for Aircraft

We obtained a favorable ruling from Maine Revenue Services on the Maine sales and use tax consequences of a number of hypothetical transactions involving leased equipment in Maine.

Favorable Ruling from Maine Revenue Service Regarding Leased Equipment

We achieved a favorable state income tax settlement for a multistate broadcasting firm.

Income Tax Settlement for Multistate Broadcasting Firm

On behalf of a New England industrial facility, we achieved a large abatement in a property tax appeal. We represented this industrial facility in their pursuit to contest recent years' property tax assessments from a town in New Hampshire. We appealed to the town Board of Tax and Land Appeals that tax assessments from 2008-2010 were disproportionately high or unlawful, resulting in the taxpayer's responsibility for a disproportionate share of property taxes. Alternate appraisals were presented which were also corroborated by separate appraisals prepared by the NH Department of Revenue Administration. The appeal for abatement was granted and the client is due a significant refund, plus interest.

Industrial Facility Succeeds in Adjusting Property Tax Assessments

We obtained an industry-specific interpretation of the Maine Service Provider Tax for telecom contractors. We helped our telecom construction clients educate Maine Revenue Services on the nuances of their businesses and gain the ability to apply the tax in a way makes more sense in this industry.

Maine Service Provider Tax

Structured transactions involving transfers of watercraft and aircraft to minimize transfer taxes in Massachusetts and Maine.

Minimizing Transfer Taxes

Representation of two pulp/paper mills in seeking abatements of their municipal property tax assessments.

Municipal Property Tax Abatements for Pulp/Paper Mills

We have represented a nuclear power plant in New Hampshire on multiple property tax valuation matters, as well as on obtaining pollution control exemptions.

Nuclear Power Plant Pollution Control Exemptions & Tax Abatements

We achieved a property tax exemption for a valuable oceanfront property, used for charitable and religious purposes, in face of challenge by the Town where the property is located.

Property Tax Exemption for Charitable Use Property

We represent a public utility in some 30 local property tax appeals pending in state courts and administrative bodies.

Public Utility Property Tax Appeals

In the 2012-2013 Maine Legislative Session, we represented the aviation industry in successfully lobbying to extend the airplane sales & use tax exemption 20 years. This single sentence in an extensive state budget provides relief for aircraft purchasers, pilots flying into Maine and maintenance of aircraft while in Maine. In 2011 Maine lawmakers approved a temporary sales and use tax exemption for aircraft and aircraft parts, but that exemption was scheduled to expire in 2015. With this exemption, Maine will be on a level playing field with other New England states in the aviation community.

Successfully Lobbied to Extend Sales & Use Tax Exemption for Aviation Industry

Represented a multinational pipeline on achieving property tax abatements.

Tax Abatements for Pipeline

We assisted a Massachusetts-based retailer with a 35-state voluntary compliance initiative, reducing sales and use tax exposure through negotiated settlements.

Voluntary Compliance Sales & Use Tax