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State & Local Tax

The attorneys in Hodgson Russ’s State & Local Tax (SALT) Practice offer our clients exceptional experience in all New York State and City tax issues. The group’s attorneys are also well versed in multistate, international, and cross-border tax matters. From planning and compliance to litigation and damage control, our SALT Practice Group attorneys provide legal solutions specifically tailored to meet our clients’ complex requirements.

While other firms of similar size may have one attorney who occasionally handles state and local tax matters, the Hodgson Russ SALT Practice has more than 22 professionals experienced in areas that include audit and assessment defense, business incentives, business succession planning, corporate structuring, income tax, energy taxation, litigation, lobbying, negotiations, and sales tax.

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Our SALT partners include Paul R. Comeau, who founded our SALT Practice and who has nearly 40 years of experience practicing tax law; Mark S. Klein, a nationally known speaker and author; Christopher L. Doyle, practice leader, who has extensive experience in the area of corporate taxation; Timothy P. Noonan, the practice’s chief litigator, who was quoted in a front-page New York Times article and in Wall Street Journal and Forbes articles; William J. Comiskey, former deputy commissioner for tax enforcement at the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance; Thomas Collura, who handles mergers and acquisitions, financial transactions, and complex trust and estate matters in the Albany area; Debra Silverman Herman, who focuses on the state and local impact of multistate business activities; and Joseph Endres, our newest partner, who focuses on sales tax issues for technology companies, various tax credit programs, and multistate abandoned property issues. Other attorney team members include seven associates. Our five paralegals have decades of combined experience.

Hodgson Russ has been awarded prestigious “Best Law Firm” rankings by Best Lawyers/U.S. News & World Report in the categories of National Tier 2 Tax Law and Litigation – Tax, Metropolitan Tier 1 Tax Law, and Metropolitan Tier 2 Litigation – Tax.

A Proven Track Record of Success

Based on statistics obtained from the New York State Division of Tax Appeals’ annual reports, taxpayers lose most of their litigation against the Tax Department. In fact, out of all the determinations issued by administrative law judges in 2000-10, taxpayers prevailed less than 27 percent of the time. Our track record is just a little better. In the past 10 years, when litigation was required, our attorneys won approximately 80 percent of the cases we’ve litigated in the Division of Tax Appeals and New York courts.

This success rate is staggering. And this chart illustrates the obvious: our lawyers know what it takes to win. As stated by one of our Fortune 500 clients, “Other tax advisors produce legal bills. You guys produce results.”


Audits. Hodgson Russ attorneys regularly help clients navigate the murky waters of an audit, including sales and use tax audits, personal income tax audits, corporation income tax audits, franchise tax audits, and abandoned property audits. No matter where a client is in the audit process, be it initial contact or collections, the Hodgson Russ SALT Practice can help achieve a satisfactory resolution.

Litigation. When litigation is inevitable, Hodgson Russ approaches it as both a business and a legal challenge. The Hodgson Russ SALT attorneys have represented hundreds of clients before the New York State and City administrative tax courts and are well versed in their procedural intricacies. Our attorneys handle a variety of judicial matters, including obtaining declaratory judgments and prosecuting judicial appeals from the administrative courts, and we have advocated on behalf of clients in all of New York’s judicial and quasi-judicial institutions, from conciliation conferences to oral arguments before New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. Hodgson Russ is the only firm to use the provisions of the CPLR to obtain legal fees (more than $145,000) against the Tax Department in a litigated tax case.

Government relations. The SALT Practice’s strong Albany presence gives Hodgson Russ an edge at the legislative level to lobby effectively for or against changes in the tax law on our clients’ behalf. Our attorneys work closely with decision makers in the state and city tax departments, as well as with legislators and legislative and executive tax writing staff members.

Multistate tax issues. Hodgson Russ SALT attorneys help numerous businesses that reach across state lines deal with the widely varying and often anachronistic tax laws and regulations that affect them. We also help clients create a plan of action for managing multistate tax compliance using our proprietary Matrix planning tool to help clients quantify their exposures through a state-by-state analysis of audit risk and liability magnitude. Working closely with individual states and the Multistate Tax Commission, the Hodgson Russ SALT attorneys help clients negotiate favorable voluntary disclosure agreements to settle their liabilities and coordinate future tax compliance.

Knowledge Is Power

We wrote the book. Any lawyer can read the books necessary to become proficient in an area of law. The Hodgson Russ SALT Practice Group attorneys write those books. Recent publications written or edited by our attorneys or to which they have contributed include:

  • The Business Incentives Guide, New York chapter (CCH)
  • Contesting New York Tax Assessments (NYS Bar Association)
  • Guidebook to New York Taxes (CCH)
  • New York City Tax Handbook (RIA)
  • New York State Sales and Use Tax Answer Book (CCH)
  • New York Tax Analysis (CCH)
  • New York Tax Handbook (RIA)
  • New York Tax Highlights (Corporate Tax Publishers)
  • Sales and Use Tax Desk Book (American Bar Association)
  • State Tax CD-ROM, New York summary (Tax Analysts)
  • Tax Practice Insights: New York (LexisNexis)
  • New York Residency & Allocation Audit Handbook (CCH)

We make news. In addition to Tim Noonan’s monthly column for Tax Analysts’ State Tax Notes, "Noonan’s Notes on Tax Practice," the group’s attorneys have written for publications that include Journal of Multistate Taxation, Trusts & Estates, Trusted Professional, Business First, CPA Journal, and Tax Stringer, among others, and have been quoted in such publications as New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BNA’s State Tax Report, Buffalo News, Capital District Business Review, State Tax Notes, and Forbes, often in multiple articles per publication.

We spread the word. While Mark Klein is among the country’s most prolific speakers on tax topics, other attorneys in the group have followed his lead. Our attorneys have presented at an extraordinary number of seminars, estimated at approximately 80 speeches per year.