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IRS Roots Fuel Brett J. Miller’s Tax Controversy Focus
Posted in Tax and Finance

Brett J. Miller conducts an active tax controversy litigation practice before both the United States and Indiana tax courts. The foundation of his tax controversy experience is his five years as a trial attorney with the Office of Chief Counsel, Internal Revenue Service, where he regularly litigated before the United States Tax Court. In addition to litigation before the United States and Indiana tax courts, Brett’s federal and state tax controversy practice involves the representation of tax clients during audits and administrative appeals. In addition, Brett regularly handles criminal tax matters in conjunction with the robust white-collar crime practice at BGD.

How do you describe what you do?

Al Capone didn’t go to prison because he was bootlegging liquor. He went to prison because he didn’t report the income from his illegal activities. I help the taxpayer who innocently or intentionally took an aggressive position on a tax return. When the IRS questions a position a taxpayer takes on a return or an omission of income related thereto, I step in. When the taxpayer’s CFO or accountant are uncomfortable addressing the situation with the IRS or IDR or have been unsuccessful in resolving issues raised by these agencies, I am often called to assist in mitigating the risk associated with the issues.

How did you end up as a tax lawyer?

I had a law school professor who said, ‘Don’t go get your MBA. Go work for the IRS.’ I listened. I was a trial lawyer in the Office of Chief Counsel of the IRS from 1983 to 1988. While there, I represented the IRS before the United States Tax Court and other state and federal courts.

What kinds of matters have you tried?

Complex controversy matters involving intermediary tax shelter transactions and back-to-back loans are not new to me. I have prepared and cross-examined ‘professional’ expert witnesses in civil tax controversy matters, together with challenging the investigative results of agents from the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS. I have extensive experience challenging both the federal and state auditor and agent who have used one or more indirect methods of proof to establish purported deficiencies in income and sales tax. I have represented taxpayers accused of civil tax fraud and criminal ‘structuring’ of monetary instruments.

What types of criminal tax matters have you handled?

My criminal tax experiences run the gambit from failure to file to matters involving a substantial understatement or omission of income amounting to tax evasion as well as the complex matters of structuring. Both as part of civil and criminal tax controversy matters, my experience with the IRS and Indiana Department of Revenue’s use of indirect methods of proof namely, source and application, cash ‘T,’ net worth and bank deposits methods, provides my clients with a resource that is invaluable.

What is your process when you start working with a new client?

I do what my mom taught me when I was younger; be a good listener. And then I figure out where there is an Achilles heel in the case. There is always an Achilles heel and I immediately start to focus my preparation on mitigating the possible damage from this flaw.

What is your goal for your clients?

To minimize the client’s exposure to tax interest and penalties and hopefully remove them from having to pay anything. In the context of my criminal tax engagement, I strive to minimize the alleged tax loss suffered by the federal or state tax authorities in an effort to discourage the investigatory body from pursuing the case further against my client.

  • Partner

    Brett J. Miller serves as Co-Leader of the Federal Tax Team. He is a member of the firm's Tax & Employee Benefits Department and Real Estate Practice Group. Mr. Miller’s tax controversy practice focuses on both federal and state tax ...

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