ExperienceState & Local Tax Advocacy

Nielsen Merksamer has extensive experience in legislative and administrative tax policy matters and litigation and have participated in some manner on many of the major tax policy issues in California over the last decade. Some of the projects in which Nielsen Merksamer attorneys have engaged include:

  • Proposition 26 (2010): drafted and represented the campaign in favor of a landmark initiative constitutional amendment on state and local taxation that sought to close loopholes in Propositions 13 and 26, created by judicial interpretation.
  • Tesoro Logistics Operations, LLC v. City of Rialto, 40 Cal. App. 5th 798 (4th Dist., Div. 2, Oct. 2, 2019), denied, 2020 Cal. LEXIS 450 (Cal., Jan. 15, 2020): on behalf of two oil refiners, successfully challenged the City of Rialto’s Measure U, a tax on wholesale liquid fuel storage tanks, as an illegal property tax that required a two-thirds vote, rather than a business license tax requiring a majority, resulting in multi-million dollar tax refunds.
  • Proposition 22 (2010): drafted and represented the campaign in favor of a successful statewide initiative constitutional amendment that protects local agency property tax and transportation revenues from state raids.
  • Initiative I-1634 (Wash. 2018): working with local counsel, drafted and represented the campaign in favor of a successful statewide initiative statute in the State of Washington that prohibits local governments from taxing groceries.
  • Dozens of other state and local tax initiatives and referenda: Nielsen Merksamer has represented the campaigns for or against many of the leading state and local initiatives in California over the past 40 years, including measures relating to beverage taxes, oil severance taxes, tobacco taxes, property taxes, and others.
  • Assembly Bill 483 (Ting, 2013): principal drafters of legislation that adds a section to the Proposition 218 Omnibus Implementation Act to define the terms “specific benefit” and “specific government service” for purposes of California Constitution, Article XIII C.
  • In a 2013 challenge to the City of Los Angeles’s assessment of a business license tax, successfully negotiated a partial refund, a favorable tax treatment for future years, and a warranty to forego audits for all past years.
  • In a 2008 suit by the City of Los Angeles alleging failure to pay business license taxes, successfully negotiated a settlement for the payment of only 24% of the claimed amount.
  • Local tax measure drafting: Nielsen Merksamer attorneys also advise county counsels and city attorneys on the process of submitting tax measures to the voters and drafting the substance of such measures.