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Wayne D. Roberts Partner

Grand Rapids, Novi
V-Card, Resume
Judy Peterman, 616/336-6653
Kathleen M. Cronin, 248/567-7415

Tax Law Experience

Wayne is a member of Varnum’s Tax Team. His practice includes all aspects of federal and state tax planning and tax litigation. He represents both closely-held and Fortune 1000 companies in tax disputes with the IRS, the Michigan Department of Treasury, and revenue departments in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Tennessee, New York, California and numerous other state and local taxing jurisdictions.


  • The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
    Columbus, Ohio
    J.D., honors in law, 1999
    Order of the Coif
  • Grand Valley State University
    Grand Rapids, Michigan
    M.S., with distinction, Taxation, 1992
  • Western Michigan University
    Kalamazoo, Michigan
    B.B.A., Accountancy, summa cum laude, 1990

Representative Matters

  • Assisted multiple clients with voluntary disclosure filings related to international, federal and multi-state filing obligations.

  • Successfully represented the taxpayer in an appeal related to the Department of Treasury's efforts to treat the taxpayer's sales of auto parts as the provision of services under Michigan's prior Single Business Tax. The cases also involved the defense of assessments for tax years in which the Department did not provide copies of tax notices to the taxpayer's designated representative as required by the SMK/Fradco decision.

  • Successfully represented the taxpayer in a dispute regarding the carryover of credits from a prior tax year, which was closed for purposes of refund and assessment, to a subsequent  year that was under audit to offset a tax assessment in the subsequent, open tax year. This litigation involved a statutory construction related to state law carryover and limitations period statutes, and federal tax law considerations (including Rev Rule 82-49).

  • Successfully represented the taxpayer against the Department of Treasury's denial of a Rule 82 election to pay use tax on rental receipts earned from aircraft rentals received in the taxpayer's leasing business, along with the related assessment of use tax on the full purchase price of an aircraft. The Department asserted that the aircraft leasing company could not elect to pay use tax on rental receipts because the aircraft at issue was used for pilot training and for maintenance flights prior to earning rents from lessees.

  • Successfully represented the plaintiff in a tax refund claim involving the recovery of sales and use tax paid on delivery trucks and delivery truck parts based on an exemption for use in "interstate commerce." 


  • Registered CPA in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio

Professional Affiliations

  • State Bar of Michigan, Chair, Taxation Section, 2012 - 2013; Taxation Section Council and Officer, 2006 - 2015
  • National Association of State Bar Tax Sections (NASBTS), Executive Committee Member, 2013 -present; Vice Chair, 2014 - 2015; Chair, 2016 - present
  • American Bar Association: Taxation Section, Administrative Procedure Committee, Vice Chair and past Secretary, 2003 - 2005; Current Developments Subcommittee, 2005; State & Local Tax Committee
  • Grand Rapids Bar Association, Business/Taxation Section
  • Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants


  • State Bar of Michigan Taxation Section L. Hart Wright Service Award Recipient, 2015
  • Best Lawyers in America®, Lawyer of the Year, Grand Rapids, Tax Law, 2014, 2017
  • Best Lawyers in America®, Lawyer of the Year, Litigation and Controversy Law - Tax, 2017
  • Best Lawyers in America® since 2013
  • State Bar of Michigan Foundation, Fellow
  • Michigan Super Lawyers, 2014

Community Involvement

  • Walsh College, Adjunct Professor
  • Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Adjunct Professor
  • Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Tax Committee
  • Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, Tax Committee

Bar Admissions

  • Supreme Court of the State of Michigan
  • Supreme Court of the State of Ohio
  • United States District Court, Eastern District
  • United States District Court, Western District
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
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