Taxability of Contingent Fee Awards: The Uncertainty Continues

June 10, 2002Articles The Legal Intelligencer

By declining to grant certiori from the decision of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Hukkanen-Campbell v. Commissioner, 274 F. 3d 1312 (10th Cir. 2001), cert. denied, No. 01-1348, the Supreme Court allowed a split among the circuit courts to remain concerning the proper tax treatment of contingent attorney fee awards.

In Hukkanen-Campbell, the 10th Circuit joined a majority of other circuits (including the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 7th and 9th), as well as the tax court, in holding that a plaintiff must include in gross income the full amount of a taxable litigation award or settlement, including that portion of the award or settlement payable to the taxpayer's attorney pursuant to a contingent fee arrangement.