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Joseph Rillotta assists clients at all stages of government investigations, with a particular emphasis on tax controversies. He has significant experience in both prosecution and defense, having served as a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Tax Division and as counsel to individuals and entities in financial crimes investigations and related litigation.

Mr. Rillotta represents clients in white collar criminal defense matters. He counsels corporate officers, executives, professionals, and small business owners in Internal Revenue Service (IRS), grand jury, and state revenue authority investigations. He defends clients facing allegations of public corruption and procurement fraud, environmental crimes and regulatory violations, and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and securities laws. Mr. Rillotta also counsels corporate clients with respect to internal investigations, proactive compliance assessments, and remediation.

Mr. Rillotta represents clients in civil litigation in the U.S. Tax Court and other federal and state courts across the country. He contests IRS assessments of tax and imposition of penalties, defends nonprofit organizations when their tax-exempt status is jeopardized, and defends clients in False Claims Act litigation and investigations. 

Prior to joining Miller & Chevalier, Mr. Rillotta was a partner at a large international law firm. From 2014 to 2016, he was counselor to the Commissioner of the IRS. He advised the Commissioner and Chief Counsel on allegations of misconduct by IRS personnel and oversaw agency responses to congressional and Inspector General inquiries. Mr. Rillotta also spent six years in the Tax Division at the DOJ, where he prosecuted tax and financial crimes in large-scale grand jury investigations, jury trials, bench trials and appellate proceedings.


Representative Engagements

Criminal and Civil Tax Controversies

  • Persuaded the government not to indict an investment manager accused of misappropriating corporate assets.
  • Avoided criminal charges against tax professionals alleged to have taken unfounded positions with respect to taxpayer domiciles.
  • Defended a contractor accused to have operated a cash payroll and evaded employment taxes, including by successfully contesting the government's computation of tax loss.
  • Defended a charitable organization against allegations of private inurement.
  • Obtained the full abatement of civil penalties arising from a hospitality company's failure to comply with information reporting rules concerning employees.
  • Represented clients in DOJ and IRS investigations concerning conservation easements and other alleged tax shelters.
  • Worked with foreign co-counsel to advise bank officers in civil and criminal fraud cases, including in connection with the DOJ Tax Division's Swiss Bank Program.

White Collar and False Claims Act Matters

  • Defended managers of a healthcare services company in an FCPA investigation spanning three continents and ten years of operations.
  • Counseled a law firm alleged to have facilitated foreign corrupt payments in the context of a broader DOJ investigation.
  • Defended an executive of an automobile manufacturer in a multi-jurisdictional investigation concerning alleged emissions testing fraud.
  • Avoided charges against a chemical plant manager following a fatal workplace accident.
  • Defeated procurement fraud allegations against a contractor providing security services to the Department of State.

Internal Investigations and Compliance Counseling

  • Represented a publicly traded U.S. multinational company in a post-acquisition due diligence investigation, culminating in a voluntary self-disclosure to the DOJ and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
  • Counseled an international professional services firm with respect to an investigation concerning the promotion of tax shelters, settlement with tax authorities, and remediation measures.
  • Conducted a due diligence investigation of an African telecom company in connection with potential acquisition by U.S. investors, analyzing potential FCPA and U.K. Bribery Act exposure.
  • Counseled a U.S. multinational conglomerate regarding whistleblower allegations of theft, conflicts of interest, and operational noncompliance in China.
  • Assisted a U.S. manufacturer in investigating intellectual property theft and the distribution of counterfeit products, and in supporting government intervention against counterfeiters.
Government Experience
  • Counselor to the IRS Commissioner, Internal Revenue Service, 2014 - 2016
  • Trial Attorney, Tax Division, Department of Justice, 2008 – 2012
Rankings & Recognition
  • Legal 500: Dispute Resolution: Corporate Investigations and White-Collar Criminal Defense, 2022
  • Legal 500: Tax: U.S. Taxes: Contentious, 2022
  • Washington, DC Super Lawyers®: Criminal Defense, 2022
  • Tax Division Awards for Outstanding Achievement, 2010 - 2011
  • DC Bar Capital Pro Bono High Honor Roll, 2020
  • Chair, Subcommittee on Monetary Violations and Forfeitures, American Bar Association
  • Member, Litigation Section, American Bar Association
  • Member, Section of Taxation, Civil and Criminal Penalties Committee, American Bar Association
State Admissions
  • District of Columbia
  • Maryland
Court Admissions
  • United States Tax Court
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • United States District Court for the District of Columbia
  • United States District Court for the District of Maryland
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma
  • Clerk, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, 2003 - 2004
News and Events
Internal Publication

Monthly Tax Roundup (Volume 1, Issue 8)

External Publication

A New Species of Enforcement?

Internal Publication

Executives at Risk: Fall 2022