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    Law Office of James Hastings PC

  • sophisticated solutions to complex tax problems

    the law office of james hastings uses decades of experience in public accounting, financial statement analysis, income taxation and tax litigation to deliver the best results for our clients


  • tax litigation

    defending state and federal audits from administrative action through tax litigation and appeals

    litigation consulting

    building tax advantaged litigation strategies to ensure

    the best outcome for clients

    estate and trust litigation

    achieving equitable results for probate, trust and estate controversies

    estate planning

    delivering comprehensive estate and succession planning to individuals and high net worth families

    full stack startup advisor

    setting up tax advantaged corporate structures for closely held businesses, startups and founders

  • "I prefer to work with boutiques. My ideal law firm is a law firm of one...

    the accountability is extremely high."

    - Naval Ravikant, CEO and co-founder of AngelList

  • practice areas

    James Hastings is a tax lawyer and CPA certified by the California Board of Legal Specialization as a Specialist in Taxation Law. He has more than 25 years experience with accounting, tax compliance, and tax litigation, advising early stage tech companies, startups and founders.

    business planning

    Throughout his practice, James has advised closely held businesses and technology startups with corporate structures, executive compensation and tax advantaged transactions. This includes raising early funds from investors and counseling owners with growth stage transactions. He has first hand experience as a founder, as well, having taken a two year sabbatical from law practice in 2017 to start Engage for CPAs, a company that built a practice management application for accountants.

    tax litigation

    Tax litigation starts with a tax notice showing an unfavorable change. The process continues through a labyrinth of administrative procedures and is sometimes resolved only in court. James has represented clients with matters in all stages including the IRS Office of Appeals, the U.S. Tax Court, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the California Superior Courts.

    estate planning

    Tax issues are inherent in estate and trust matters and are especially important to legal disputes. Tax expertise can be a powerful litigation device. In addition to representing both beneficiaries and trustees, James advises high net worth families with complex multi-generational estate planning and consults on estate and trust litigation issues.

    legal consulting

    James also advises other attorneys and their clients with particularly complex tax matters. This might include an evaluation of pleadings and settlement agreements to find tax opportunities, helping estate planning attorneys to determine the tax consequences of estate and trust transactions or contingencies, and advising companies on investment and transactions.

  • “[The lawyers] think their job is to stop us from getting sued, and I think their job is that when we are sued, we win.”

    - John Oliver

  • representative cases

    u.s. tax court litigation

    $18.5M tax abatement, U.S. Tax Court

    Litigated an innocent spouse claim before the U.S. Tax Court. The IRS Office of Chief Counsel conceded and the court dismissed the case with prejudice, eliminating $18.5M of income tax liabilities, penalties and interest. Pareto Media, Inc., Et Al. v. Commissioner (Consolidated)

    estate tax litigation

    $1M estate tax recovery, IRS Independent Office of Appeals

    Engaged to contest late payment penalties assessed to multi-million dollar estate, arguing that the tax should be abated due to the client's reasonable reliance on the advice of a tax professional. Successfully petitioned the IRS to remove the penalties and refund more than a million dollars of excess payments.


    Accountant's professional negligence, San Francisco Superior Court

    Represented the plaintiff with a tax preparer malpractice claim and ten other causes of action related to negligent performance of tax services in connection with delinquent IRS payroll tax and responsible person Trust Fund Recovery Penalties. The case settled for an 11.4x multiplier of the proved special damages. Durham v. Jeffrey Johnston, Game on IRS! (2022)


    Accountant's professional negligence, San Francisco Superior Court

    Represented the plaintiff with a tax preparer negligence suit related to negligently prepared amended tax returns claiming false or incorrect income tax deductions, creating large tax refunds. The amended returns were reversed in audit, resulting in repayment of the prior income tax refunds created by the false deductions, late payment and accuracy penalties. Recovered a 7.5x multiplier of the proved special damages. Calef v. Jeffrey Johnston, Game On IRS! (2016)


    Accountant's professional negligence, San Francisco Superior Court

    Represented the personal representative and sole beneficiary who engaged the decedent's CPA to prepare the estate tax return. Identified several significant errors and referred the case to a plaintiff's attorney. Served as both an expert litigation consultant and a fact witness to the litigation and recovered the maximum value of the claim.


    Shareholder dispute, breach of fiduciary duty, San Francisco Superior Court

    The majority member of an limited liability company tendered an offer to purchase the minority interest. The minority interest holder countered with a suit alleging breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract, among other claims. Represented the majority shareholder in litigation, ultimately resulting in a settlement agreement to purchase the minority interest for less than the original buyout offer. McNally v. Symbiosystems, LLC, Et. Al.


    Litigation consulting, taxation of settlement proceeds, San Francisco Superior Court

    Assisted litigation counsel with the pleading, discovery and settlement negotiations to ensure the settlement proceeds were non-taxable to the defendant, resulting in more than $1M of income tax avoided.

    estate planning

    Multi-generational transfer, appreciated real property, San Francisco County, CA

    Represented the beneficiaries of an estate with the transfer a $16M property into subsidiary trusts and used non-taxable transactions and partial disclaimers to structure a tax-advantaged, multi-generational transfer while preserving the original property tax basis.


    High-net worth estate planning, conservation easement, Monterey County, CA

    Represented the surviving spouse with restructuring investment real estate holdings; prepared supplementary post-mortem estate planning to preserve original property tax basis and avoid capital gain of more than $6M through fractional ownership and conservation easement discounts.


  • about us

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    James Hastings

    JD, CPA, LLM Taxation

    Certified Specialist in Taxation,

    California State Board of Legal Specialization


    James Hastings has more than 25 years tax experience as a dual licensed professional with the highest credentials in tax law. He is a former Adjunct Law Professor at Golden Gate University in the LLM Taxation program. As a trusted tax advisor to high-net worth families, entrepreneurs and closely held business, his law practice has earned a reputation for creating sophisticated solutions to complex tax questions.


    James is also the Co-Founder of Secured Carbon, a fintech company specializing in tax credit transactions, and founder of Engage for CPAs, an automated practice management application for CPAs and tax preparers. He continues to serve on the Advisory Boards of BayArea startups and growth ventures.


  • Paul H. Nathan, Of Counsel 

    Paul Nathan is a highly accomplished trial lawyer who graduated cum laude from the University of San Francisco with a Bachelor of Arts degree and recognition on the Dean’s List. He later graduated from the Golden Gate University School of Law and attended Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College. Paul has received the AV Preeminent Award from Martindale Hubbell. He was named one of the “Top Attorneys in California” by San Francisco magazine and maintains an AVVO rating of 10.0.


    Additionally, Paul has been honored as one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in California by the National Trial Lawyers, received the Litigator of the Year award from the American Institute of Trial Lawyers, and earned the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Premier Attorneys of America.
  • tax news & insights

  • "The avoidance of taxes is the only intellectual pursuit that carries any reward."

    - John Maynard Keynes

  • Press Release: James Hastings Joins Secured Carbon as Director of Tax Strategies FOR IMMEDIATE...
    An involuntary transfer of an LLC membership interest is just that—a transfer prompted by a...
    An LLC affords its members a certain amount of personal asset protection. Part of this protection...
    More Posts
  • contact information

  • PO Box 453

    San Francisco, CA 94104

    t: 415.610.4160 || f: 415.520.9662

    info@jwrhlaw.com | .@jwrhastings

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  • “Cryptocurrency is everything you don’t know about money combined with everything you don’t know about computers.”​

    - John Oliver

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    crypto deposit
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