Tax: State and Local

Client and Industry Challenges

State and local tax rules frequently change, leaving companies and individuals vulnerable to complex tax-related issues arising from transactions, controversies and general business operations that vary from one jurisdiction to another. Having up-to-date, experienced tax counsel who can provide sound planning, transactional and controversy advice is essential for minimizing risk and maximizing opportunity when it comes to state and local tax issues.

Snell & Wilmer is a state tax law firm whose state and local tax attorneys are well-equipped to provide efficient and effective assistance to clients seeking our assistance on matters involving planning, negotiating, litigating and lobbying on state and local tax issues. When asked, we provide our clients with sophisticated, seasoned legal representation based on our extensive knowledge of the complex tax structures.

In many instances, our involvement starts when the scope of other tax professionals has been exhausted and the need for legal expertise comes to the forefront. We work cooperatively with other tax professionals both in the planning and controversy stage of state and local tax issues.

Areas of Service

Our services begin with tax planning and extend to legislative, audit, administrative and judicial representation on issues across the broad landscape of state and local tax, including:

  • Corporate income and franchise taxes, including unitary tax and apportionment analysis
  • Individual income taxes, including residency and source planning
  • Sales tax, transaction privilege tax, business privilege tax, use tax and other forms of gross receipts taxes
  • Employment taxes, including responsible person liability, multi-state employee / mobile workforce issues and independent contractor disputes
  • Real estate transfer taxes and similar taxes, including disguised real estate transfer taxes such as the Arizona municipal speculative builder tax
  • Real property taxes, including California Proposition 13 issues, change in ownership and welfare exemption planning
  • Personal property taxes, including aircraft
  • Motor fuel and use fuel taxes

Our state tax attorneys and local tax attorneys handle audits and appeals to the following:

  • Arizona Department of Revenue, Board of Tax Appeals, and Office of Administrative Hearings 
  • California Board of Equalization, Franchise Tax Board, Employment Development Department, and the Office of Tax Appeals
  • County Real Property Tax Assessment Appeals
  • Utah State Tax Commission
  • State and county boards of equalization and assessor offices in Arizona, California, and Utah
  • Arizona Tax Court
  • California Superior Courts
  • Utah District Courts
  • Arizona, California, and Utah Court of Appeals
  • Arizona Supreme Court
  • Utah Supreme Court
  • United States District Court
  • United States Courts of Appeal
  • United States Supreme Court

Unique sales and use tax laws, which in some cases impose a tax on the seller for the privilege of doing business, present the greatest potential for litigation. In addition, real and personal property tax issues including valuation, exemptions, abatements, and classification errors can largely affect a property owner’s bottom line. Our attorneys have particular experience in these areas, which provides exceptional value to our clients.

Clients We Serve

Our tax clients include a wide range of public companies, privately held businesses, partnerships and joint ventures, individuals, trusts, estates, and tax-exempt organizations. We also advise multi-state, e-commerce and cloud computing clients on complex multi-state tax responsibilities, sales and use tax collection obligations and real and personal property tax liabilities. We serve a broad range of industries, including automotive, banking, chemical, computer technology, credit card and consumer finance, education, energy, food, industrial manufacturing, pharmaceutical, retail, low-income housing, multi-family housing, mining, contracting, hospitality and casino, development, and telecommunications.

Why Clients Select Us

Committed and Invested: Over the years, our state and local tax lawyers have been involved in numerous projects that have made significant contributions to our business communities. We have taken part in many important cases affecting state and local taxation and regularly give presentations designed to keep our clients and communities abreast of new or imminent tax issues.

Dynamic Approach: With attorneys focused on state and local tax law in the western United States, we have the depth and breadth of experience necessary to offer our clients a broad range of tax-related services that are sensitive to the complex and occasionally subtle differences in state laws. Additionally, our state and local tax attorneys can consult with other firm attorneys from the real estate, corporate, government relations and litigation practice areas to enhance the quality of representation and the level of service provided to our clients. We enlist a collaborative approach with other tax professionals and regularly consult with them and their clients on current state and local tax disputes to assist them in positioning the disputes for further administrative appeals or court actions.


Some of the matters that our state and local tax group attorneys have addressed that are of lasting significance include:

  • Arizona Supreme Court cases, representing taxpayer parties and amici curiae supporters of numerous significant decisions
  • Legislative amendments to tax laws streamlining and clarifying tax treatment related to
    • Installation of manufacturing, mining, telecommunications, and electrical equipment
    • Gift card sales
    • Construction contracts involving preconstruction services
    • Sales and use tax licensing and reporting requirements
    • Property tax reductions for all airlines landing or operating in Arizona
    • Repeal of a state sales tax on advertising revenue
    • Implementation of an Arizona State Taxpayer and Arizona Municipal Taxpayer Bill of Rights
    • Creation of a safe harbor provision for employers regarding issues and disputes involving employees and independent contractors


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