Pierce Atwood's Tax attorneys work closely with the firm's Business, Energy Infrastructure, and Real Estate Practice Groups to deliver coordinated and seamless advice to address our clients' overall business and personal objectives. We pride ourselves on creating practical, tax-efficient structures to meet our client's needs. Our lawyers provide planning, transactional, litigation, regulatory and legislative services to business taxpayers, associations and individuals on all state and local tax issues and economic development incentives.

We assist with transactions, including mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, commercial financing, and business succession planning, that frequently involve complex federal, state, and international tax issues. Our attorneys also represent both individuals and businesses in tax controversies and disputes before all levels of the IRS, the United States Tax Court, and Federal District Courts.

We also assist our local and multistate clients with Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island tax issues and advise multistate businesses on state tax nexus, apportionment, and planning issues with respect to sales and operations in other states.

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

Areas of Expertise

Pierce Atwood's Tax Group works closely with the Business Group to structure transactions in the most tax-efficient manner possible. Tax considerations often determine the form and the viability of contemplated transactions. Accordingly, members of our group become involved in transactional matters at the outset, learning and understanding the client's business, structure, and balance sheet to achieve the client's objectives. Members of the Tax Group regularly advise clients on the federal, state, and international tax aspects of corporate reorganizations, mergers, acquisitions, spin-offs and other dispositions, joint ventures, financings, and restructurings.

Representative Experience

Pierce Atwood advised BTU International, a publicly traded global supplier of thermal processing equipment, in a stock for stock, tax-free merger with Amtech (NASDAQ: ASYS), a global supplier of production and automation systems.

BTU International Tax-Advantaged Merger

Over the past several years, renewable energy projects have frequently been driven by federal and state tax credits and other tax incentives. Members of the Tax Group regularly work with the Energy Practice Group and the Renewables Team to structure and develop renewable energy projects, including wind, solar, and biomass projects, to achieve our client's objectives in the most tax-efficient manner possible. Often this involves the syndication or monetization of tax credits. We have expertise and experience with all tax aspects of renewable energy projects, including investment tax credits, production tax credits, new markets tax credits, and the Section 1603 cash grant program.

Representative Experience

Represented Fox Islands Wind, LLC in the development of an innovative initiative supported by the island's consumer-owned electric cooperative, nonprofit institutions, and private investors, which included the receipt of federal production tax credits.

Fox Islands Wind Innovative Initiative

In today’s tight credit market tax credits are often an important piece of financing a project. Pierce Atwood’s attorneys have substantial experience with tax credit financing, including both state and federal new markets tax credits, historic rehabilitation tax credits, and renewable energy tax credits. We regularly work with businesses and developers to utilize these programs in a variety of ways, including real estate, manufacturing, and energy infrastructure projects. Because Pierce Atwood is a multi-service law firm, our tax credit attorneys draw on the knowledge and experience of our other practice groups (e.g., Business, Real Estate, Environmental, and Energy) to successfully bring projects to a financial closing. We pride ourselves on working collaboratively with our clients to find practical, efficient, and creative ways to achieve our client’s goals.

Representative Experience

Representation of Athens Energy and its sister company, Maine Woods Pellet Company, in connection with all aspects of the financing of a $38 million biomass electricity generation facility, including $31 million of new markets tax credit financing ($31 million of State of Maine allocation and $7.5 million of federal allocation) and the syndication of renewable energy investment tax credits (ITC).

Athens Energy & Maine Woods Pellet Company Biomass Project Tax Credits

We advised Burgess Biopower on all aspects of financing the redevelopment of a shuttered paper mill into a state-of-the-art 75 MW biomass power plant located in Berlin, New Hampshire, which will burn waste biomass and sell power to the grid. The financing involved several sources of funds, including $63.5 million of new markets tax credit financing with allocation from six CDEs. The project also involved a $90 million section 1603 cash grant in lieu of an investment tax credit or production tax credits. The balance of the project was financed by $200 million of rated bonds provided by a consortium of financial institutions. We also advised with respect to EPC agreement, off-take power purchase agreement with PSNH and all project related agreements.

Burgess Biopower New Hampshire Mill Redevelopment

Representation of Capone Iron Corporation in a $10 million new markets tax credit financing for the construction of a manufacturing facility.

New Markets Tax Credit Financing for Manufacturing Facility

Assisting Cate Street’s subsidiary Newco Energy in development and $275 million new market tax credit and Section 1603 financing of its biomass plant in Berlin, New Hampshire.

Newco Energy Development and Financing of Biomass Plant

Representation of a tax credit investor in connection with a new markets tax credit financing of a $10 million real estate development in Brunswick, Maine.

NMTC Financing of Real Estate Development

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 assisted the Farnsworth Art Museum, located in Rockland, Maine, with a combined state and federal new markets tax credit financing, helping the museum to secure capital needed for critical repairs and improvements to the building. The NMTC investment has allowed the museum, which opened in 1948 and boasts a remarkable collection of over 15,000 objects, to stay open and continue welcoming more than 100,000 visitors annually.

Preserving Access to American Art Collections

Our tax team assists companies seeking to locate or expand in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island to take advantage of available economic incentives. The team also regularly lobbies on behalf of business groups in Maine to maintain or expand incentives, including Business Equipment Tax Exemption benefits, investment tax credits, tax increment financing, employment tax increment financing, new markets tax credits, and Pine Tree Zone benefits.

Representative Experience

Representation of Capone Iron Corporation in a $10 million new markets tax credit financing for the construction of a manufacturing facility.

New Markets Tax Credit Financing for Manufacturing Facility

Representation of a tax credit investor in connection with a new markets tax credit financing of a $10 million real estate development in Brunswick, Maine.

NMTC Financing of Real Estate Development

We assisted the Farnsworth Art Museum, located in Rockland, Maine, with a combined state and federal new markets tax credit financing, helping the museum to secure capital needed for critical repairs and improvements to the building. The NMTC investment has allowed the museum, which opened in 1948 and boasts a remarkable collection of over 15,000 objects, to stay open and continue welcoming more than 100,000 visitors annually.

Preserving Access to American Art Collections

We assisted our client in securing a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to further support the growth of the company in Maine. Administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the CDBG program provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs.

Secured Community Development Block Grant to Facilitate Company Growth

We successfully advocated for the enactment of legislation to improve the Business Equipment Tax Exemption and avoid cuts to the Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement and Pine Tree Zone programs.

Spearheading Business Tax Incentives

Along with our Trusts and Estates Group, we provide advice and counsel to tax-exempt organizations regarding all organizational and operational aspects of obtaining and maintaining federal tax exemption and public charity status. We also counsel clients and plan for the taxation of unrelated business activities. We help clients comply with all applicable tax rules, including structuring compensation arrangements to meet deferred compensation rules and intermediate sanctions regulations. We regularly prepare exemption applications. We also provide guidance regarding state tax exemptions, including exemptions from sales tax and property tax.

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.

Representative Experience

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

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

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

Income Tax Settlement for Multistate Broadcasting Firm

We have decades of experience with both planning and controversy issues 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 clients include pulp and paper mills, power plants, interstate pipelines, federal superfund sites, hotels, real estate developments, telecommunications assets, summer camps, and high-end residential properties.

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

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

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

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

Represented a multinational pipeline on achieving property tax abatements.

Tax Abatements for Pipeline

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

Members of the Tax Group represent clients in tax controversy matters, including trial litigation and IRS audits and appeals. We regularly advise clients during the audit process by assisting in responses to IRS requests, developing strategies to identify and address issues. Many concerns are resolved at the audit level, but when they are not, we obtain successful resolutions at the appeal level or before the United States Tax Court or the Federal District Courts. We work closely with our Litigation Group in many controversies so that our clients have the benefit of both experienced tax lawyers and innovative litigators.

Representative Experience

Our Tax Group successfully represented a corporate client before IRS appeals where the IRS auditors had determined that the executives' compensation was unreasonable.

Successful IRS Appeal for Corporate Client

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

Representation of Athens Energy and its sister company, Maine Woods Pellet Company, in connection with all aspects of the financing of a $38 million biomass electricity generation facility, including $31 million of new markets tax credit financing ($31 million of State of Maine allocation and $7.5 million of federal allocation) and the syndication of renewable energy investment tax credits (ITC).

Athens Energy & Maine Woods Pellet Company Biomass Project Tax Credits

Pierce Atwood advised BTU International, a publicly traded global supplier of thermal processing equipment, in a stock for stock, tax-free merger with Amtech (NASDAQ: ASYS), a global supplier of production and automation systems.

BTU International Tax-Advantaged Merger

We advised Burgess Biopower on all aspects of financing the redevelopment of a shuttered paper mill into a state-of-the-art 75 MW biomass power plant located in Berlin, New Hampshire, which will burn waste biomass and sell power to the grid. The financing involved several sources of funds, including $63.5 million of new markets tax credit financing with allocation from six CDEs. The project also involved a $90 million section 1603 cash grant in lieu of an investment tax credit or production tax credits. The balance of the project was financed by $200 million of rated bonds provided by a consortium of financial institutions. We also advised with respect to EPC agreement, off-take power purchase agreement with PSNH and all project related agreements.

Burgess Biopower New Hampshire Mill Redevelopment

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

Represented Fox Islands Wind, LLC in the development of an innovative initiative supported by the island's consumer-owned electric cooperative, nonprofit institutions, and private investors, which included the receipt of federal production tax credits.

Fox Islands Wind Innovative Initiative

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

Maine Beer Co. has grown from a small “nano” brewery producing 100 barrels of beer a year to a thriving microbrewery producing over 4000 barrels a year. To support the surge in production they expanded their staff from two to 12 full-time people and moved into a brand new 11,000 square foot production facility. As the company has grown so have its legal needs and Pierce Atwood has been there to help.

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Maine Beer Co. Growth

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