Michael J. Semes

Of Counsel

Philadelphia
T +1.215.564.8270
F +1.215.568.3439

Overview

Michael Semes works closely with clients to resolve their complex tax issues. Drawing from his experiences as a senior government tax official and as a partner in multinational professional services firms, he has a thorough understanding of the nuances of tax law, policy and procedure. Michael has collaborated with a diverse array of clients in nearly every state and has represented clients in tax controversies in many state forums. From a sector perspective, he has deep experience working with companies on both the regulated and non-regulated sides of the energy industry.

Michael collaborates with his colleagues and clients to apply his knowledge and unique experiences in innovative ways to help clients exceed their goals.

Select Experience

  • Served as Chief Counsel of the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue under Governor Tom Ridge.
  • Drafted significant tax legislation and regulations.
  • Assists Fortune 500 clients in resolving significant state and local tax issues.
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Experience

  • Served as Chief Counsel of the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue under Governor Tom Ridge.
  • Drafted significant tax legislation and regulations.
  • Assists Fortune 500 clients in resolving significant state and local tax issues.
  • Negotiated hundreds of settlements and letter rulings in multiple states, and argued numerous cases before administrative and judicial bodies.
  • Led a team of attorneys and professionals that delivered tax solutions to some of the world’s largest power producers, regulated energy delivery companies and water utilities.
  • Reported tax decisions in MI, PA, and NJ with outcomes that were favorable to the clients.
  • Represented Pennsylvania utility in Public Utility Realty Tax Act dispute regarding the definition of “cost” in which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court awarded the taxpayer a $55.7 million refund.
  • Represented Pennsylvania bank in matter involving the calculation of the surviving bank’s Bank Shares Tax base following its acquisition of another bank. The Commonwealth Court held in favor of the bank that the statute violated the Uniformity Clause.
  • Represented privately held oil and gas company at the Michigan Tax Tribunal in challenging the Department’s assessment of Michigan Business Tax (MBT). The Tribunal ruled that the client was permitted to deduct its depletion allowance from its MBT income, which eliminated the Department’s assessment and granted client a refund.
  • Represented out-of-state software licensor in a dispute over whether the licensor was subject to New Jersey Corporate Business Tax (CBT). The New Jersey Tax Court held that because New Jersey sales tax law defined canned software to be tangible personal property that Public Law 86-272 (15 U.S.C. § 381) precluded the Division of Taxation from subjecting the licensor to CBT.

Recognitions and Memberships

Recognitions

  • Registered Lobbyist, Pennsylvania

Memberships

  • Philadelphia Bar Association
    • State and Local Tax Subcommittee: Chair
  • WorldTrade Executive: Former Board Member
  • Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, Tax Transition Team
  • Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Tax Advisory Council

Community

  • Settlement Music School: Board Member (2016 to Present)
  • Astral Artists: Board Member (2014 to 2016)

Prior Positions

  • Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law and Graduate Tax Program: Professor of Practice (Present)
  • Ernst & Young, National Tax Department: Principal
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers: Partner
  • Pennsylvania Department of Revenue: Chief Counsel

Admissions

  • Pennsylvania
  • Delaware

Education

  • J.D., Villanova University School of Law, 1990
  • M.F.A., Carnegie Mellon University, 1981
  • B.M., Duquesne University, 1979, summa cum laude