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Appellate decision: Services rendered to clients located outside the city by an attorney working in the city are not taxable as in-city services

By Joanne Geha Swanson
January 19, 2018

In a published decision issued Thursday, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that income received for legal services rendered by an attorney working in the City of Detroit to a client located outside the city are "out-of-city" services for purposes of determining income taxable by the city.  Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP v City of Detroit. The Court's first paragraph synopsis states:

"We are asked in this case to determine whether services performed by an attorney in Detroit on behalf of a client located outside the city while that attorney is physically located in his or her office in the city is to be considered in-city or out-of-city income for purpose of § 23 of the City Income Tax Act (CITA).1  Petitioner maintains that the relevant consideration is where the client receives the services, while respondent and the Tax Tribunal maintain that the relevant consideration is where the work is performed. We agree with petitioner and reverse the Tax Tribunal and remand." 

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About Joanne Geha Swanson ...

Joanne Geha Swanson has more than 30 years of experience as a litigator and appellate attorney. Her civil litigation practice primarily involves complex commercial disputes, antitrust, class actions, business torts, legal malpractice and other related matters.

Joanne also devotes a significant percentage of her professional time to state and federal appellate practice involving issues across the spectrum of subject areas, including insurance disputes, constitutional challenges, questions of statutory interpretation, business torts, commercial disputes, medical and legal malpractice, real estate disputes, and civil procedural questions.

She has authored numerous published articles related to her areas of practice, and she has lectured on topics related to litigation and the appeals process. She contributed the Michigan chapter to the recently published Practitioner's Guide to Class Actions, 2nd edition from the ABA's Tort Insurance and Trial Practice Section. She also served on the editorial board for the book. Swanson wrote the Michigan chapter and served on the editorial board for the first edition, as well.

Joanne is the Past Chair of the State Bar of Michigan's Antitrust, Franchise & Trade Regulation Section.  She is a current Council Member of the Appellate Practice Section of the State Bar of Michigan and a member of the Detroit Bar Association Board of Directors. She chairs the editorial board of the Detroit Bar Association’s Detroit Lawyer magazine. On September 29, Joanne as the chair-elect of the Appellate Practice Section assumed leadership as chair at the Section’s Annual Meeting (State Bar NEXT Conference, Cobo). She moderated the Annual Meeting program that was sponsored by the Appellate Practice Section.

Joanne is listed in The Best Lawyers in America®, Woodward/White, Inc.; was named a “Best Michigan Attorney”; honored by Corporate Counsel Magazine as a “Super Lawyer”; and selected by dbusiness Magazine as a “Top Lawyer.” She has been ranked as a “Michigan Super Lawyer” by Thomson Reuters. She also received the Thomas M. Cooley Law School Distinguished Brief Award. She was just named a 2017 Super Lawyer in Civil Litigation Defense (named every year since 2006), and she received the 2018 Best Lawyers Litigation – Antitrust “Lawyer of the Year” for Metro Detroit. Only a single lawyer in each practice area and community is honored with a "Lawyer of the Year" award. She was also named a 2017 dBusiness Magazine Top Lawyer: Appellate, Litigation - Antitrust (5th consecutive year; 6th overall recognition). She is AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell.

Joanne is a fellow of the Michigan State Bar Foundation and the Detroit Bar Association Foundation. She was recognized by Crain's Detroit Business as one of their Notable Women Lawyers in Michigan - 2017.

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