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Winning on Appeal
Caplin & Drysdale
Winning on Appeal

With the tax law as complicated as it is, there are times when the trial court reaches the wrong conclusion. A taxpayer may be unable to convince a trial judge or a jury of the merit of its position, or the IRS may refuse to accept a taxpayer victory and seek reversal on appeal. The appellate courts are thus increasingly confronted with complex tax issues, often involving massive records from the court below and seemingly impenetrable statutes, regulations, and case law.

There is an art to cutting through the complexity in a tax case and guiding an appellate court to the right legal answer for clients. Caplin & Drysdale's appellate tax litigators are masters of this art. Our appellate lawyers have argued dozens of tax appeals nationwide, up to and including the U.S. Supreme Court. Our firm has the depth of tax experience to reduce any difficult tax issue to its essentials and to analyze it from all sides -- historical, legal, factual, and the underlying policies. We then are able to craft a persuasive and creative brief that greatly increases our clients' chances of prevailing before the courts of appeals.

Representative Engagements

  1. The IRS denied a Research & Experimentation tax credit claimed by a major aerospace company, contending that the research had been "funded" by the Federal Government under a fixed price contract. The trial court upheld the IRS disallowance of the credit.

    Result: Caplin & Drysdale handled the appeal to the Federal Circuit and won a unanimous reversal, convincing the appellate court that the trial judge had misapplied the governing Treasury Regulations. On remand, the case was settled on terms very favorable to the taxpayer.

  2. The IRS asserted a multi-million dollar deficiency in windfall profit tax against a major oil company. The Tax Court sustained the IRS position.

    Result: Caplin & Drysdale worked with a team of law firms to craft a winning strategy for appeal to the Fifth Circuit. The client selected a Caplin & Drysdale lawyer to argue the case, and the result was a unanimous decision in the taxpayer's favor. The case was remanded on a factual issue and settled on terms resulting in a 100% victory for the taxpayer.

Our Services

    • Filing notice of appeal and preparing the required appendix on appeal
    • Preparing briefs and reply briefs to court of appeals
    • Working with government counsel to investigate settlement possibilities
    • Oral argument in appellate court
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