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Robert C. Morris

Co-Head of Tax, United States

Robert C. Morris

Houston

T:+1 713 651 8404

Rob Morris represents clients in tax controversy matters, which includes IRS examinations, IRS fast track mediations, IRS appeals, litigation in the United States Tax Court and federal district courts, and before the IRS competent authority office.  Rob also regularly advises clients in state tax disputes, transfer pricing issues, tax sharing agreement disputes, and matters involving allegations of tax fraud and potential criminal tax charges.

Clients describe Rob as "fantastic" and "technically excellent" while praising him for his "common-sense approach" and "great overall service."  Rob has been recognized in Chambers and Partners, Legal 500, and as a leading advisor for tax controversy in the International Tax Review's Tax Controversy Leaders Guide.  He served as Editor of the Texas Tax Lawyer and currently serves on the Council of the State Bar of Texas Tax Section as Director of the Leadership Academy.  Rob is also a certified public accountant and previously worked for a "Big Four" accounting firm.

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  • Education

    LL.M, Taxation, with distinction, Georgetown University Law Center, 2006
    JD, cum laude, Brigham Young University, 2004
    Masters, Accounting, Brigham Young University
    BS, Accounting, Brigham Young University

    Rob was admitted to practice law in Texas in 2004, and is also admitted to practice before the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, the United States Tax Court, the United States Court of Federal Claims, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. While in law school, Rob served on the Moot Court Team Board of Advocates and as a law clerk to a Utah District Court Judge. 

  • Representative experience
    Federal Tax Controversy - Litigation
    • Partnership in United States Tax Court involving approximately $900 million of IRS adjustments (including challenges to the validity of Treasury Regulations), plus penalties
    • Corporation in United States district court involving proposed disallowance of deduction for a worthless debt
    • Corporation in United States district court involving complex financial products, international tax issues, economic substance, substance over form and the step transaction doctrine
    • Individual and estate in United States district court involving disguished dividend and compensation issues
    • Corporation in United States Tax Court involving IRS's proposed disallowance of deduction for worthless stock of wholly-owned subsidiary
    • Corporation in United States district court involving a change of accounting method
    • Company in United States Tax Court involving "effectively connected" income issues for activities in the United States Outer Continental Shelf
    • Individuals in United States Tax Court involving residency issues
    • Estate in United States Tax Court involving valuation of oil and gas interests 
    • Tax-exempt organization in United States district court declaratory judgment action
    • Individuals in United States Tax Court involving unreported income issues
    • Corporation in United States district court involving IRS summons enforcement proceedings

    Federal Tax Controversy - Audits & Appeals 
    • Corporation in IRS audit and appeals proceedings involving dispute over withholding taxes
    • Corporation under IRS examination for civil tax fraud as a result of tax whistleblower's allegations
    • Corporations in U.S. competent authority proceedings regarding withholding taxes and Treaty violations
    • Corporation in IRS audit and appeals proceedings with respect to tax and penalty issues in connection with alleged Foreign Corrupt Practice Act violations
    • Corporation in claims for refund and subsequent IRS examination for additional foreign tax credit resulting from the settlement of long-running tax disputes with the foreign government
    • Corporation in Fast Track proceedings involving the credit for research activities
    • Corporation in responding to IRS administrative summons
    • Corporation in IRS audit and appeals proceedings involving the Section 199 deduction for domestic production activities
    • Corporations in IRS audits and appeals proceedings involving debt vs. equity issues 
    • Individuals in IRS audits who participated in "listed transactions" involving derivative financial instruments and foreign currency transactions on tax, penalty, and interest suspension issues
    • Individuals in IRS audit and appeals proceedings involving alleged "Mid Co" transaction and related transferee liability issues
    • Individuals in IRS audit for gift tax issues related to a family limited partnership
    • Individuals in making voluntary disclosures of unfiled tax returns and undisclosed offshore assets to the IRS 

    Transfer Pricing
    • Corporation in the negotiation of a bilateral Advance Pricing Agreement 
    • Corporation in IRS audit and Appeals proceedings related to a dispute with the IRS regarding the proper leasing rate for tangible equipment
    • Corporation in IRS audit and Appeals proceedings with respect to multiple transfer pricing issues, including management services, intercompany borrowing and lending transactions, and the intercompany leasing of assets
    • Corporation in a contractual dispute arising from a tax sharing agreement related to a transfer pricing adjustment
    • Corporation with setting corporate transfer pricing and procedures related to the leasing of tangible equipment from a Luxembourg company
    • Corporation with setting corporate transfer pricing and procedures related to intercompany services provided by a Swiss company
    • Corporation under IRS examination with respect to multiple transfer pricing issues, such as intercompany borrowing and lending transactions from a Cayman Islands Company
    • Corporation in IRS audit regarding the intercompany rates charged for leasing certain equipment by a Swiss company  
    • Corporation in IRS audit regarding the intercompany rates charged for services and equipment by a Bermuda company
    • Corporation in arbitration and litigation proceedings related to a contractual dispute arising from a purchase price adjustment related to transfer pricing
    • Corporation in IRS audit regarding several issues, the most significant of which related to transfer pricing issues regarding a cost sharing agreement 
    • Foreign oil and gas company before the IRS on issues arising during the course of multiple examinations, principally dealing with the proper application of the comparable profits method to the transfer of tangible property 
    • Corporation in IRS audit and Appeals proceedings related to a dispute with the IRS regarding a cost sharing agreement
    • Corporation in connection with transfer pricing issues related to a potential joint venture
  • Admissions
    • Texas State Bar
  • Rankings and recognitions
    • Chambers USA, Texas: Tax: Litigation, Chambers & Partners, 2017 - 2018
    • LMG Rising Star, Tax, Euromoney PLC, 2016-2017
    • Tax Controversy Leader, International Tax Review, Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC, 2017
    • Legal 500 US, recommended lawyer, US taxes - contentious, The Legal 500, 2016, 2018
    • Legal 500 US, recommended lawyer, Tax: Controversy, The Legal 500, 2014 - 2015
    • Texas Rising Star, Tax, Thomson Reuters, 2012 - 2018
    • Leading Advisor For Tax Controversy, International Tax Review Tax Controversy Leaders, Fifth Edition.
  • Publications
    • Co-author, "Transfer Pricing Audits Under The New IRS Roadmap And Disputing Proposed Adjustments," Willamette Management Associates Insights, Winter 2015
    • Co-author, "What If My Client's Settlement Agreement With The IRS Has A Mistake?," The Texas Tax Lawyer, Fall 2014
    • Co-author, "IRS is Aggressively Targeting Foreign Vessel Owners and US Companies for Outer Continental Shelf Activities," Fulbright Briefing, November 18, 2013
    • "Unequal Treatment Claim? IRS Reiterates Its Position That It Is Not Required to Treat Similarly Situated Taxpayers Equally," Bloomberg BNA Daily Tax Report, August 29, 2013
    • Co-author, "IRS Provides Updated Information For 2012 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program," Fulbright Briefing, August 1, 2012
    • Co-author, "The Nuts & Bolts of Tax Refund Litigation," The Texas Tax Lawyer, Winter 2012
    • Co-author, "IRS Gives Taxpayers Third Bite At The Apple; Announces Third Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program," Fulbright Briefing, January 11, 2012
    • Co-author, "IRS's Latest Directive On Economic Substance Doctrine Provides Welcome News," Fulbright Briefing, July 22, 2011
    • Co-author, "IRS Releases Final Schedule for Reporting Uncertain Tax Positions and Clarifies Policy of Restraint," Fulbright Briefing, September 28, 2010
    • Co-author, "Recent IRS Administrative Guidance on Economic Substance Leaves Many Unanswered Questions," Fulbright Briefing, September 17, 2010
    • Co-author, "Taxpayer Victory in 'Deloitte' Breathes Fresh Air Into Continuing Battle Over Tax Accrual Work Papers," BNA Daily Tax Report, August 3, 2010
    • Co-author, "IRS Releases Draft Schedule and Instructions for Reporting Uncertain Tax Positions," Fulbright Briefing, April 23, 2010
    • Co-author, "Clarification of the Economic Substance Doctrine May Have Beneficial Side Effects for Taxpayers," Fulbright Briefing, March 30, 2010
    • Co-author, "IRS About To Start Detailed Employment Tax Examinations," Fulbright Briefing, February 2010
    • Co-author, "IRS Announces New Broad Disclosure Requirements for Uncertain Tax Positions," Fulbright Briefing, January 2010
    • Co-author, "Recent Taxpayer Economic Substance Victories Provide Blueprint for Success," BNA Daily Tax Report, December 10, 2009
    • Co-author, "IRS Takes Aim at Offshore Services to the Oil & Gas Industry," Fulbright Briefing, November 2009
    • Co-author, "IRS Targets Employment Taxes To Close Tax Gap," Fulbright Briefing, October 2009
    • Co-author, "IRS Extends Deadline for Voluntary Disclosure Program Until October 15, 2009," Fulbright Briefing, September 2009 
    • Co-author, "Newly Minted 'For Use in Possible Litigation' Test of Textron May Have Far-Reaching Implications for Taxpayers," BNA Daily Tax Report, August 28, 2009
    • Co-author, "U.S. Court of Appeals Rules That IRS is Entitled to Tax Accrual Work Papers," Fulbright Briefing, August 2009 
    • Co-author, "IRS Targets Compensation Deductions for Discounted and Backdated Stock Options," Fulbright Briefing, August 2009
    • Co-author, "Where is the 'United States' for Federal Tax Purposes? ," The Texas Tax Lawyer, May 2009 
    • Co-author, "IRS Makes Limited Time Offer to Taxpayers With Undisclosed Offshore Accounts," Fulbright Briefing, April 2009
    • Co-author, "Tax Issues for Investors in Alleged Ponzi Schemes," Fulbright Briefing, March 2009
    • Co-author, "Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Must be Reported by June 30, 2009," Fulbright Briefing, May 2009
    • Co-author, "IRS Focusing on Taxpayers with Undeclared Foreign Accounts," Fulbright Briefing, July 2008
  • Speaking engagements

    Rob is a regular speaker at programs sponsored by the Tax Executives Institute, International Association of Drilling Contractors, and accounting firms. The following is a list of some of his recent speaking engagements:

    • "Transparency & The Exchange of Information Among Tax Authorities," 2018 International Association of Drilling Contractors International Tax Seminar, Austin, Texas, June 8, 2018
    • "A Shrinking World? Transparency and Increased Collaboration Among Tax Authorities," Tax Executives Institute, Houston Chapter Annual Tax School, Houston, Texas, May 8, 2018
    • "Exchange of Information – The New Landscape," Tax Executives Institute IRS Audits and Appeals Seminar, New Orleans, Louisiana, May 1, 2018
    • "Going to Court," Tax Executives Institute, Houston Chapter Annual Tax School, Houston, Texas, February 27, 2018
    • "Federal Tax Litigation," The Houston Business and Tax Law Journal's 18th Annual Symposium, Houston, Texas, February 23, 2018
    • "International Tax Controversies," USA Branch of the International Fiscal Association 46th Annual Conference, Houston, Texas, February 23, 2018
    • "Choice of Forum and Post-Filing Discovery," Tax Controversy School, San Francisco, California, October 11, 2017
    • "Choice of Forum and Post-Filing Discovery," Tax Controversy School, San Jose, California, October 10, 2017
    • "Resolving Tax Controversies:  An Overview For Counsel," Association of Corporate Counsel, 2017 Back To School Symposium, Houston, Texas, August 15, 2017
    • "Feeling The Heat:  An Overview Of Transfer Pricing Controversies," University of Houston, Houston, Texas, July 5, 2017
    • "Latest IRS Position On Transfer Pricing," 2017 International Association of Drilling Contractors International Tax Seminar, Houston, Texas, June 8, 2017
    • "Negotiation: Getting to Closure," Tax Executives Institute IRS Audits and Appeals Seminar, Chicago, Illinois, May 8, 2017
    • "Turning Up The Heat, Recent Developments In Transfer Pricing Controversies," Tax Executives Institute Houston Chapter Tax School, Houston, Texas May 4, 2017
    • "Post-Filing Discovery," Tax Controversy School, New York, New York, March 7, 2017
    • "Controversy Trends in Transfer Pricing," Tax Executives Institute, Houston Chapter Annual Tax School, Houston, Texas February 22, 2017
    • "Privilege & Work Product - Selected Issues," Tax Executives Institute IRS Audits and Appeals Seminar, Boston, Massachusetts, June 14, 2016
    • "Significant Changes in the IRS's Approach to Transfer Pricing, Advance Pricing Agreements & Competent Authority," 2016 International Association of Drilling Contractors International Tax Seminar, Galveston, Texas, June 2, 2016 
    • "How To Succeed At IRS Appeals," Tax Executives Institute, Houston Chapter Annual Tax School, Houston, Texas, May 5, 2016
    • "Redesigning How The IRS Audits Multinationals," 13th Biennial Parker C. Fielder Oil and Gas Tax Conference, Houston, Texas, November 20, 2015
    • "New Audit Paradigm:  "Issue-Focused" LB&I Examinations," Tax Executives Institute, 70th Annual Conference, Dallas, Texas, October 21, 2015.
    • "Managing Privilege," Tax Executives Institute IRS Audits and Appeals Seminar, Chicago, Illinois, May 20, 2015
    • "Hot Topics: Protecting The Foreign Tax Credit, Rapid Appeals Process, Document Retention & Privilege, Mistakes in Settlement Agreements," Tax Executives Institute, Houston Chapter Annual Tax School, Houston, Texas, May 7, 2015
    • "An Informal Discussion with the Experts, Transfer Pricing Roundtable: The Changing Transfer Pricing Environment," Tax Executives Institute, Houston Chapter Annual Tax School, Houston, Texas, May 4, 2015
    • "IRS Transfer Pricing Audits: What You Should Know!," Houston Chapter Annual Tax School, Houston, Texas, May 4, 2015 
    • "Handling An IRS Challenge To A Tax-Efficient Transaction: Lessons Learned From Painful Experiences," Tax Executives Institute, IRS Administrative Affairs Meeting, Boston, Massachusetts, February 6, 2015
    • "IRS Enforcement On The U.S. Outer Continental Shelf," American Bar Association Section of Taxation 2015 Midyear Meeting, Houston, Texas, January 30, 2015
    • "Handling IRS Challenges to Tax Efficient Transactions: Lessons Learned from Painful Experience," Tax Executives Institute, 69th Annual Conference, Houston, Texas, November 4, 2014
    • "Protecting The Foreign Tax Credit; Easing The Pain Of Contested Taxes," 2014 International Association of Drilling Contractors International Tax Seminar, New York, New York, June 5, 2014
    • "Document Retention:  What Should I Keep?," Tax Executives Institute, 2014 IRS Audits & Appeals Seminar, New York, New York, May 22, 2014
    • "Updates From The Trenches: The Section 199 Deduction And Outer Continental Shelf Initiative," Tax Executives Institute, Houston Chapter Annual Tax School, Houston, Texas, May 9, 2014
    • "Exploring the Implications of IRS Enforcement Efforts in the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf," Offshore Support Vessel North America Conference, Houston, Texas - March 28, 2014
    • "Planning For An IRS Challenge To A Tax-Efficient Transaction: Lessons Learned From Painful Experiences," Financial Executives International, Houston, Texas, October 15, 2013
    • "Updates From The Trenches On Recent IRS Enforcement Efforts - Debt v. Equity; Protecting The Foreign Tax Credit," Tax Executives Institute, IRS Administrative Roundtable Meeting, Houston, Texas, October 3, 2013
    • "When The Rubber Hits The Road:  Settlement vs. Litigation," Tax Executives Institute, Houston Chapter Annual Tax School, Houston, Texas, May 10, 2013
    • "The Nuts & Bolts Of Handling An IRS Audit; Lessons From Painful Experiences," 2012 International Association of Drilling Contractors International Tax Seminar, Washington, D.C., June 8, 2012
    • "Preparing For The Audit Of A Tax-Efficient Transaction," Tax Executives Institute, Houston Chapter Annual Tax School, Houston, Texas, May 4, 2012
    • "Hot Issues: Fast Track vs. Regular Appeals, Section 199 Deduction, Penalties, Withholding," Tax Executives Institute, IRS Administrative Roundtable Meeting, Houston, Texas, April 4, 2012
    • "The Latest Battlegrounds:  Updates On The IRS's Enhanced Enforcement Efforts," Spring Accounting Expo., Houston CPA Society, Houston, Texas, May 23, 2011
    • "Preparing For Settlement - Voluntary Disclosure, Appeals, Fast Track, or Litigation," Tax Executives Institute, Houston Chapter Annual Tax School, May 4, 2011
    • "Tax Controversies: A Basic Overview," Networking Seminars, Houston, Texas, December 2010
    • "The Latest Battlegrounds: Updates On The IRS's Enhanced Enforcement Efforts," Tax Executives Institute Luncheon, Ft. Worth, Texas, August 25, 2010
    • "Taxpayers Beware: Recent Developments In Federal Tax Enforcement," In-House CLE for Energy Company, Houston, Texas, May 20, 2010
  • Memberships and activities
    • American Bar Association - Section of Taxation
      • Court Procedure and Practice Committee
      • Administrative Practice Committee
      • Pro Bono Committee
    • State Bar of Texas Tax Section
      • Leadership Academy Director
      • Member of Council
    • Houston Bar Association