David Suess, a tax partner with Faegre Baker Daniels, participated in a Q&A session with Law360 in which he discussed current issues in tax law as well as personal accounts from early in his career.
Suess said many of his clients who have many property holdings are concerned with increasing revenue needs from local and state governments. When consulting clients with this concern, Suess told Law360 that he tries to offer flexibility in how he structures his fees, understanding that legal fees can be a great expense in challenging or litigating assessment or tax increases. "As governments seek new revenue sources or increased revenues from existing sources, it challenges my clients in a number of ways," he noted. "It is not always clear why their taxes are going up when, in the real world, the value of their property might be declining, or at least not increasing. In all cases, I strive to listen to the client, to answer their particular concerns and to adapt to their needs.
Suess also described a case in which in he represented two clients trying to reorganize in bankruptcy that had multiyear tax disputes involving millions of dollars of tax and refunds per year. "Litigating these tax disputes in federal bankruptcy court was challenging both procedurally and substantively," Suess said. "In addition to procedural issues, the substantive legal issues were untested and novel, particularly for the bankruptcy court." Suess was ultimately able to win the tax issues in the bankruptcy forum, resolving the appeals more quickly than they might otherwise have been and putting the clients in a better position for bankruptcy proceedings.