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Tax Attorney

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.



Represented Granger Energy Services division's sale of 16 landfill gas-to-energy sites across six states to an Australian company. Negotiated sale agreement, coordinated antitrust filings, and advised on tax, employee benefits and energy regulatory matters.

Assisted multiple clients with voluntary disclosure filings related to international, federal and multistate 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." 


Honors & Recognitions

Best Lawyers in America®, Lawyer of the Year, Litigation and Controversy –Tax, Tax Law, 2017

Best Lawyers in America®, Lawyer of the Year, Tax, Grand Rapids, 2014

Best Lawyers in America®, Litigation and Controversy –Tax, Tax Law, Grand Rapids, since 2014

Leading Lawyers, Tax Law - Business

Michigan Super Lawyers®, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018

State Bar of Michigan, Taxation Section, L. Hart Wright Service Award recipient, 2015

State Bar of Michigan Foundation, fellow, 2012 - present

Professional Affiliations

American Bar Association: Taxation Section; Administrative Procedure Committee, vice chair and past secretary, 2003 –2005; Current Developments subcommittee, 2005; State and Local Tax Committee

Grand Rapids Bar Association, Business and Taxation Section

Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants, 1992 – present

National Association of State Bar Tax Sections: Executive Committee, 2013 - present; vice chair, 2014 - 2015; chair, 2016 - present

State Bar of Michigan: Taxation Section, chair, 2012 - 2013; council and officer, 2006 - 2015

Community Involvement

Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, Tax Committee

Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Tax Committee

Walsh College, adjunct professor

Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School, adjunct professor

News & Publications

Speaking Engagements




Certified general civil mediator, Dispute Resolution Center of West Michigan

Certified Public Accountant in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio


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., summa cum laude,
Accountancy, 1990

Bar Admissions

  • Michigan
  • Ohio

Court Admissions

  • All Michigan state courts
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan
  • United States Tax Court
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