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Michael Desmond

Bingham McCutchen LLP
Washington, DC

As a sole practitioner with a deep background in all aspects of tax controversy and experience working at the highest levels of the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Mike is uniquely positioned to assist clients of all sizes in achieving targeted, cost-effective solutions to federal and state tax disputes. Although early resolution of these disputes is always preferred, it is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve as the IRS and state tax authorities take overreaching positions and are unwilling to compromise on acceptable terms. Mike has the background and experience to see any tax dispute through all stages of controversy, ranging from audit through administrative appeals, litigation in the Tax Court or a refund forum, and on to the courts of appeal if necessary. Through his independent practice, Mike personally handles matters in a client-facing and cost-effective manner.

After serving as a law clerk for a Federal judge in Los Angeles, Mike began his career in tax controversy as a Trial Attorney with the Attorney General’s Honors Program at the Tax Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. After the Justice Department, Mike worked at a boutique tax firm in Washington, D.C., where he was elected partner in 2004. In this capacity he represented clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies to partnerships and individuals. Mike returned to government in 2005, serving as Tax Legislative Counsel in the U.S. Department of Treasury through 2008. As Tax Legislative Counsel, Mike was the Department’s senior legal advisor on domestic tax issues, testifying before Congress and working with senior IRS officials including the IRS Commissioner and Chief Counsel on a broad range of tax policy, legislative and regulatory matters. Following his tenure at the Treasury Department, Mike spent several more years as a partner in a global law firm before starting his own practice in January 2012.

Professional Honors & Awards

  • Fellow, American College of Tax Counsel
  • Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, Tax (2009-2011)
  • Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, Tax Controversy (2009-2011)
  • The Best Lawyers in America, Leading Lawyer in Tax Law (2012)
  • IRS Commissioner’s Award (2008)
  • IRS Chief Counsel’s Award (2008)
  • Treasury Secretary’s Honor Award (2007)
  • Tax Division Award for Sustained Superior Performance (1998)

Publications & Speeches
Select Publications

  • “Revisiting the Broad Definition of Return Preparer,” Tax Notes (January 2011)
  • Co-author, “Practical Considerations for Schedule UTP … an Addendum,” The Tax Executive (October 2010)
  • Co-author, “Practical Considerations in Preparing for the Impending Schedule UTP Filing Requirement,” The Tax Executive (September 2010)
  • Resolution of Financial Products Tax Controversies,” Practicing Law Institute (2009)
  • Co-author, “Improving Compliance Through Changes to the Return Preparer Regulations,” BNA (2008)

Recent Speaking Engagements

  • Documenting and Substantiating Section 41 R&E Credit Claims, Tax Executives Institute 62nd Midyear Conference, Washington, D.C. (Mar. 28, 2012)
  • Disciplinary Proceedings Under Circular 230, ABA Webcast Series Webinar (Mar. 14, 2012)
  • Tax Penalties: Nuts, Bolts and Nuances, Tax Executives Institute IRS Audit & Appeals Conference, San Diego, Calif. (Feb. 22, 2012)
  • Taxpayer Reliance on “Formal” and “Informal” Guidance, ABA Webcast Series Webinar (Jan. 25, 2012)
  • Deciphering the Arguments in Home Concrete and Disciplinary Proceedings Under Circular 230, ABA 2012 Midyear Meeting, San Diego, Calif. (Jan. 17, 2012)
  • LB&I: A New Player in Financial products Tax Guidance, Practising Law Institute, New York, NY (Jan. 17, 2012)
  • Current Developments in the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility, ABA Third Wednesday Series Teleconference (Dec. 21, 2011)
  • Schedule UTP Seminar, Tax Executives Institute Chicago Chapter Meeting, Chicago, Ill. (Dec. 6, 2011)
  • Economic Substance Doctrine: The Brave New World, ABA 28th Annual National Institute on Criminal Tax Fraud, Las Vegas, Nev. (Dec. 1, 2011)
  • Opinion Practice in Light of Canal Corporation and Taxpayer Reliance on “Formal” and “Informal” Guidance, ABA Tax Section Annual Joint CLE Meeting, Denver, Colo. (Oct. 21-22, 2011)
  • Current Developments Affecting Partnership Tax Controversies and PTINs and the Regulation of Tax Preparers, National Institute of Tax Professionals, Las Vegas, Nev. (Oct. 19-20, 2011)
  • The Changing Landscape for Audits — Trends, Strategies and Alternatives, Corporate Executive Board Tax Director Roundtable Webinar (Oct. 18, 2011)
  • Economic Substance, ABA Tax Section (Administrative Practice Committee), Third Wednesday Series Teleconference (Sept. 14, 2011)
  • Overview of the Guidance Process and Discussion of Issues With Respect to Dearth of Formal Guidance and Increased Use of Informal Guidance, Taxes and the Guidance Problem, Tax Analysts Roundtable Series, Washington, D.C. (July 22, 2011)

Bar & Court Admissions
Admitted to practice in the District of Columbia, New York and California

  • U.S. Tax Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Central District of California
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims

Experience & Education

  • 1994-1995: Law Clerk, Hon. Ronald S. W. Lew, U.S. District Judge, Central District of California
  • 1995-2000: Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice Tax Division
  • 2000-2004: Partner and Associate, McKee Nelson LLP
  • 2005-2008: Tax Legislative Counsel, U.S. Department of Treasury
  • 2005-Present: Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University Law School
  • 2008-2012: Partner, Bingham McCutchen LLP (and its predecessor firm, McKee Nelson LLP)
  • Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, Juris Doctor, magna cum laude (1994)
  • University of California, Santa Barbara, Bachelor of Arts (1990)