Pierce Atwood’s Tax Group counsels clients on federal, state, and local tax. Our tax attorneys both advise clients on transactional matters as well as litigate tax disputes in state and federal courts. 

On transactional matters, 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 assist with transactions, including mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, commercial financing, and business succession planning, that frequently involve complex federal, state, and international tax issues. We pride ourselves on creating practical, tax-efficient structures to meet our client's needs. 

Our lawyers provide planning, litigation, regulatory and legislative services to business taxpayers, associations and individuals on all state and local tax issues and economic development incentives. Our deep expertise in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island tax allows us to provide practical advice and efficient solutions for both local and multistate clients. We advise clients on complex state and local tax issues, including nexus, apportionment, and planning issues with respect to sales and operations in other states. We regularly represent clients in state and local tax controversies, from audit to litigation and dispute resolution. 

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

Members of the Tax Group represent clients in tax controversy matters, including litigation of tax disputes and representation during state and federal audits and appeals. We regularly advise clients during the audit process by assisting in responding to information requests, and by developing strategies to identify and address issues. Many concerns are resolved at the audit level, but when they are not, we litigate taxes cases at the administrative level or before state courts, 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 seasoned trial lawyers.

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

Renewable energy projects are often 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 renewable energy project financings and acquisitions, 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, and new markets tax credits.

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

Tax credits are often an important piece of financing a project, whether that project involves renewable energy, historic rehabilitation, manufacturing facilities, or commercial and residential real estate. 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 also have substantial experience with the relatively new federal opportunity zone. We regularly work with businesses and developers to utilize these programs in a variety of ways. 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 design, maintain or expand tax incentives, including Business Equipment Tax Exemption/Reimbursement benefits, Major Business Headquarters Expansion Credit, Shipbuilding Credit, investment tax credits, tax increment financing, employment tax increment financing, new markets tax credits, sales tax exemptions, 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.

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