W. Curtis Elliott, Jr. is an architect of multi-generational wealth for successful family enterprises.  Through his combined expertise in estate and gift tax law, trusts & estates and corporate law, he helps family companies develop long term, durable structures to help minimize estate taxes, promote business succession and protect company assets from the risks of children's divorces. 

Curtis's peers have recognized him as one of the Best Lawyers in America in tax law.  His work includes insurance trusts, corporate matters, shareholder dynasty trusts, buy-sell agreements, mergers and acquisitions, and real estate tax planning. He serves clients in industries such as real estate development, construction, mortgage servicing, healthcare software, data management, freight, distribution, and logistics. Curtis's clients are located in both the Charlotte area and across the southeast United States.

Curtis also has extensive courtroom experience in high-stakes estate and income tax cases. He litigates federal tax controversies before IRS Administrative Appeals, the U.S. Tax Court, and the Federal District Courts. His advocacy has resolved some of the most complex tax issues for clients. Curtis handles all types of tax cases, including estate and gift tax audits, civil IRS proceedings, U.S. Tax Court litigation, IRS criminal tax investigations, and tax trials in the state and federal courts. Curtis's tax controversy clients range from Fortune 500 corporations to private family companies and decedents' estates. He also handles trust and estate cases for clients.

Curtis often speaks at numerous tax controversy and litigation panels across U.S. – see speaking engagements, below. He is a past Chair of the ABA Tax Section's Committee on Court Procedure and Practice.  Curtis is also a past Chair of its Committee on judges' appointments to the U.S. Tax Court. Additionally, Curtis is a co-author of the nationally published treatise entitled "Valuation Practice in Estate Planning and Litigation," published by Clark Boardman and Callahan in 1994.

  • The National Trial Lawyer: Top 100 – Tax Litigation
  • Named Best Lawyers 2022 “Lawyer of the Year” in Trusts and Estates, in Charlotte
  • Named Best Lawyers 2021 Litigation-Trusts and Estates “Lawyer of the Year” in Charlotte
  • Named Best Lawyers 2020 Litigation & Controversy – Tax “Lawyer of the Year” in Charlotte
  • Member, America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators® for 2019 – Top 100 High Stakes Litigators 2019 Press Release
  • Selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® (2021), in the specialties of Corporate Law, Tax Law, Trusts and Estates, Litigation – Trusts & Estates and Litigation & Controversy – Tax
  • Selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® (2008 – 2022), in the specialties of Tax Law, Trusts and Estates, Litigation – Trusts & Estates and Litigation & Controversy – Tax
  • Named Best Lawyers  2018 Litigation & Controversy – Tax “Lawyer of the Year” in Charlotte
  • Named Best Lawyers  2013 Litigation & Controversy – Tax “Lawyer of the Year” in Charlotte
  • Member of the Legal Elite Hall of Fame in Tax and Estate Planning by the North Carolina Business Magazine, based on peer recognition as the State of North Carolina’s top winner more than twice in the specialty of tax and estate planning law.
  • Selected for inclusion in North Carolina Super Lawyers (2006-2021)

Estate Planning and Corporate Matters

  • Helped a large family business develop multi-generational trust structure to own the business equity.
  • See our M & A Transactions   
  • Represented a regional healthcare company as seller’s counsel in its sale to a New York private equity firm for $140,000,000.
  • Represented a high growth entrepreneur in partnerships with a private equity fund making numerous corporate acquisitions nationally. Many of the transactions used earnout financing.
  • Helped family business client develop GST trusts with S-corporations and buy-sell agreements.
  • Assisted client in converting trust based private foundation into a non-profit corporation/private foundation, to expand the Board of Directors.
  • Implemented successful grantor retained annuity trusts for entrepreneur-partners engaged in national software as a service (SaaS) business serving the Fintech sector.
  • Represented a client which converted an S-corporation into a limited liability company.
  • Helped a client achieve Woman-Owned Enterprise status in the logistics business.
  • Helped a client recapitalize $85 million of debt with family trusts.

Tax Litigation and Controversy Cases

  • Featured in “Inside the IRS unit taking on Americas millionaires and billionaires – ICIJ” February 2024 
  • Successfully litigated the removal of IRS civil tax penalties in a U.S. Tax Court reasonable compensation case. Clary Hood, Inc. v. Commissioner, 69 F.4th 168 (4th Cir. 2023)
  • Won a trial in U.S. Tax Court involving the federal estate tax value of a manufacturing business, saving the estate over $8 million in estate taxes and income taxes in Disanto v. Commissioner, TC Memo 1999-421. (click here to read case decision)
  • Won a $1,400,000 estate tax case in U.S. District Court for the Western District of NC. The IRS sued 12 heirs (Curtis’ clients) for estate taxes delinquent under IRS Code §6166. Curtis filed a motion for summary judgement. See U.S. v Godley motion. The case was dismissed on statute of limitation grounds. See U.S. v Godley, 3:13-CV-549 (2015)
  • Representing Ingersoll-Rand Company and subsidiaries as local counsel in federal court in the Western District of North Carolina in a federal tax refund case involving substantial Swiss taxes.
  • Litigated and favorably resolved an innocent spouse case in U.S. Tax Court involving over $111,000,000 in tax, interest and penalties.
  • Negotiated a settlement of a federal income tax case involving the deductibility of SEC restitution funds of over $220,000,000.
  • Represented a seller of a business, won a domicile income tax dispute of over $10 million against the NCDOR. Curtis handled the client’s administrative appeal and served as co-counsel at the client’s trial before the NC Office of Administrative Hearings. (click here to read .pdf) The trial ruling was upheld by the NC Court of Appeals.
  • Negotiated a multi-million settlement prior to Tax Court trial of a reasonable compensation tax case for officer salaries and bonuses, on terms favorable to the corporate client.
  • Represented a decedent’s estate in NC Superior Court, and obtained a Declaratory Judgement that the decedent properly exercised a special power of appointment over NC Trust property. (click here to read .pdf)
  • Served as lead trial counsel in U.S. Tax Court in a case involving the qualification and valuation of a conservation easement on a tract of land located near Charleston, SC on the Cooper River. 
  • Successfully defended the owner of an inherited stock portfolio in U.S. Tax Court as an innocent spouse was found not liable for her husband’s non-payment of federal income taxes.
  • Litigated a multi-million dollar tax dispute with IRS in U.S. Tax Court involving the sale and leaseback of fleet of Boeing 727 jet aircraft which was, favorably settled following Curtis’ deposition of numerous witnesses, motion to compel discovery and motion for summary judgment.
  • Successful defense of national medical device manufacturer in NC sales tax case.
  • Successfully litigated and settled a probate dispute between heirs involving executor’s use of annuities to misappropriate probate assets.
  • Tried a sales tax case before the NC Income Tax Commission, resulting in a ruling in favor of a NASCAR team.
  • Litigated a NC income tax case before the Office of Administrative Hearings regarding the allocation of personal customer goodwill to shareholder in a sale of assets by C-Corporation, which was favorably settled.
  • Represented a building contractor client involving charges of tax fraud conspiracy, in the Western District of NC.
  • Conducted a valuation trial before NC Property Tax Commission, resulting in partial property tax reduction for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Charlotte Branch.
  • Won a trial in U.S. Tax Court in favor of taxpayer, sustaining deductions of sales distributorship.
  • The cases mentioned above are illustrative of the matters handled by the firm. Case results depend upon a variety of factors unique to each case. Not all results are provided, and prior results do not guaranty a similar outcome.

Speaking Engagements

  • Panelist, “Virtual Trials in the U.S. Tax Court: The New Paradigm,” ABA Tax Section, Committee on Court Practice and Procedure, May 12, 2021
  • Panelist, “Conservation Easements: Contemporary Issues and Challenges,” Southern Federal Tax Institute (SFTI), October 23, 2019
  • Panel Moderator, Speaker and Mock Trial Participant, “Using Summary Accounting Evidence in Tax Litigation Cases,” 2018 May Meeting, ABA Section of Taxation, Committee on Court Practice and Procedure.
  • Speaker, “Handling Tax Cases Before IRS Administrative Appeals,” 2016 J. Nelson Young Tax Institute, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law.
  • Speaker, “Defending Family Partnerships and LLC’s From IRS Attack – A Tax Litigator’s Perspective,” 35th Annual Estate Planning & Fiduciary Law Program – North Carolina Bar Association, Kiawah Island Golf Resort – Kiawah Island, SC, July 17-19, 2014.
  • National Co-Moderator, NBI September 2011 Teleconference on “Recent Developments in IRS Tax Enforcement.”
  • Moderator and Mock Trial Panelist, “Litigating the Valuation of a Business,” Mecklenburg County Bar – CLE, December 8, 2010.
  • Panelist and Speaker, “Defending the Innocent Spouse in Tax Court,” 2010 North Carolina/South Carolina Tax Section Workshops, May 28, 2010 – May 30, 2010.
  • Panelist and Speaker, “Using Trusts with Buy-Sell Agreements,” Queens University Estate Planners Day, May 17, 2011.
  • Panelist and Speaker, “Tax Litigation Ethical Concerns in Responding to IRS IDRs and Requests for Formal Discovery,” Court Procedure and Practice Committee, ABA Tax Section May Meeting, May 7, 2010.
  • Keynote Speaker, “Using Beneficiary Grantor Trusts – Tax and Planning Issues,” M-Group 2012 National Advisors Conference, Key Biscayne, February 23-24, 2012.
  • Moderator, “Trial Strategies in Complex Tax Prosecutions: Evidentiary and Procedural Challenges,” ABA Tax Section, Committee on Civil and Criminal Tax Penalties, September 2009.
  • Co-Author (with Briani Bennett), “Closely Held Business Interests and The Trustee’s Duty to Diversify,” Trusts & Estates, April 2009.
  • Panelist at the ABA Tax Section Committee on Estate Planning entitled, “Using Trusts with Buy Sell Agreements,” (Mid-Year Meeting, January 2009).
  • Speaker on the topic of “Handling an IRS Estate Tax Audit” at the 2009 and 2011 North Carolina Bar Association Seminar, Estate Planning and the Marital Deduction, Greensboro, North Carolina.
  • Panelist, “Tax Court Litigation Institute,” 1999, Georgetown University Law Center.
  • Author, “Scanlan, Federal Estate Tax Valuation and Subsequent Events,” 1997, the National Association of Certified Valuation Analyst’s Valuation Examiner Magazine.
  • Moderator and Panelist, “Ethical Issues in Federal Tax Litigation,” 1995 ABA Tax Section Committee on Court Procedure.
  • Please visit the Firm’s Tax Blog Tax Controversies Today, for current developments.


  • Inducted as a Fellow into the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) 2016
  • Fellow and Member of Board of Regents of the American College of Tax Counsel
  • Past Chair of the Committee on Court Practice and Procedure and the Committee on Appointments to the U.S. Tax Court of the American Bar Association’s Tax Section