Tax Litigation and Controversy

The Carlton Fields tax practice group has handled virtually every type of tax controversy before state and federal administrative agencies and courts. These include numerous reported cases in state trial and appellate courts and federal district and appellate courts, the federal Claims Court, and the United States Tax Court.

We have represented clients and argued cases in the Florida Supreme Court in numerous major Florida tax matters, including those related to documentary stamp taxes on conveyances and financing of real property, sales and use tax, and issues regarding rentals, intangible personal property taxes, and corporate income tax issues. We act as tax counsel on Florida tax matters to numerous national investment companies and funds, and have issued Florida tax opinions for them. The Florida cases we have handled date back to the early 1980s, and include representing the State of Florida in the services tax cases following the law’s first passage in 1987.This matter went on to the Florida Supreme Court.

Our sophisticated, interdisciplinary state and federal tax controversy practice group includes commercial litigators. On behalf of clients that range from local companies to Fortune 100 corporations, we currently handle numerous tax controversy cases with more than $30 million at stake, and pending at all levels of state and federal government and in state and federal court.

Our tax practice group includes several lawyers who hold post-law degrees (LLM) in taxation, specialists Board Certified in Tax Law by The Florida Bar, certified public accountants, a former chair of the Tax Certification Committee of the Florida Bar, former chairs of the Tax Section of the Florida Bar, and the incoming chair of the Tax Section of the Florida Bar. Many members of our tax practice have taught tax law at various law schools and in the accounting programs of various colleges and universities. They have also participated in, and served on panels for, prominent state and national tax programs and seminars that provide continuing legal education and training to tax lawyers around the country.

Representative Tax Court Matters:

  • Represented finance company in a matter where we argued the first guarantee case on taxes on a guarantee that the Department of Revenue (“DOR”) dropped. They subsequently litigated with others and won.
  • The first Geoffrey case for a personal property rental company where the DOR tried to tax the licensing of trademarks into the state of Florida to an affiliate of the licensee. The DOR dropped the case. 
  • Handled sales tax cases for a major, multinational Fortune 100 company regarding work at the major airports in Tampa, Orlando, and Miami.  DOR proposed $10 million in tax.  Resolved for less than 15 percent of the tax and worked out the sharing agreement among the airports.
  • Represented a major banking institution in a $4 million documentary stamp tax case on a transfer of money to its affiliate. The matter was settled for less than 25 percent of the tax. 
  • Handled cases for skydiving and zero gravity flight companies with a novel federal anti-head tax argument. The DOR dropped the assessment and repealed its rule.
  • Obtained a $2 million refund in sales tax for video game retailer arguing over the return policy rules of the DOR. Convinced the court there was no time element in the statue or rule that prevented taxpayer’s customers from using a credit well after a game was traded in for a new one. 
  • Handled major sales tax case for Fortune 25 company where DOR proposed to assess $10 million in sales tax on its hundreds of Florida franchisees for mailbox rentals. Fought DOR for five years, and the case was dropped.
  • Florida tax matters for two of three major sports franchises in Florida. DOR proposed to assess $15 million in sales tax.  After a lengthy battle, settled case for $89,000, which was the amount that the management company had collected and failed to remit to the State of Florida.
  • Represented hotel discount companies and litigated cases in Florida regarding the sales tax on discounted rooms in Florida. We won the cases in Florida.