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Henry Cheng

Henry Cheng

Henry is a strategic thinker and has conceived of a number of discovery/trial strategies. . . His performance during trial, which I witnessed firsthand, was superb.

Henry Cheng is a tax controversy and litigation partner in the firm’s San Francisco office. Before joining DLA Piper, Henry was a law clerk to the Honorable David Laro of the U.S. Tax Court. 

Henry has more than a decade of experience successfully representing businesses and multinationals in all aspects of complex civil tax disputes at the federal, state and local levels, as well as in cross-border tax controversy matters. He represents clients across industries and sectors, including high tech and emerging growth, real estate development, travel and hospitality, telecommunications, consumer products, international shipping and logistics, financial services, and investment funds. Henry has consistently obtained favorable results for his clients in administrative hearings, litigation, and trials.

In federal civil tax controversy matters, many of his engagements involve international tax issues, such as sourcing of income, anti-deferral regimes, foreign tax credits, U.S. trade or business and permanent establishment, transfer pricing, and treaty issues. 

In state and local civil tax controversy matters, Henry has represented clients in matters involving sales and use tax, transient occupancy tax, payroll/unemployment tax, property tax as well as residency and income sourcing and allocation issues. Henry also represents clients in tax refund actions in state courts.

Henry is also an adjunct professor at University of California College of Law San Francisco (formerly UC Hastings) where he teaches tax procedures and tax controversy. He frequently speaks at conferences on current tax controversy issues and topics. Before he began pursuing his tax practice, Henry was a patent litigator. He is a registered patent attorney admitted to practice before the USPTO and is therefore well versed in all issues relating to technology and IP law.

Bar admissionsCaliforniaUnited States Patent and Trademark Office
CourtsUnited States District Court for the Northern District of CaliforniaUnited States Court of Appeals for the Ninth CircuitUnited States Tax Court


At DLA Piper, his notable engagements include:

  • Lead counsel advising an Indian multinational IT service provider in connection with the negotiation of a Bilateral Advance Pricing Agreement between the U.S. and Indian competent authorities. Henry also represents the same client in connection with a number of direct and indirect tax multistate audits before U.S. state and local taxing authorities.
  • Trial counsel for an offshore hedge fund before the U.S. Tax Court in a multi-year litigation over the issue of whether the fund had a U.S. trade or business and other precedent setting legal issues. The amount of liability in dispute is over $180 million. The case is currently pending before the court.
  • Prevailed in a motion for summary judgment before a state court for a global mobile telecommunications company on the claim that the state was preempted by federal law from imposing a communications users tax on roaming calls that originated by foreign travelers in the U.S. 
  • Tried and prevailed in a case before the U.S. Tax Court (T.C. Memo. 2019-158) involving an income adjustment of over $40 million, where the primary issue involved the valuation of a complex real estate development business, by developing effective trial strategies and authoring a persuasive post-trial brief.
  • Advised a U.S. cloud-based telecommunications company in connection with a withholding tax audit before the IRS.
  • Successfully defended a major global shipping company in several state direct and indirect tax audits in the U.S. 
  • Successfully resolved payroll and employment tax issues for several U.S. and non-U.S. multinationals.
  • Successfully advised a Chinese multinational dairy product production and sales company in connection with an IRS audit covering 8 taxable years. The audit involved several complex tax issues including subpart F income, transfer pricing, section 956 inclusion, foreign tax credit and net operating loss carryover, and FX gain. The audit resulted in a zero cash tax liability to the taxpayer.
  • Successfully represented an Indian multinational in connection with a multi-year permanent establishment audit.
  • Persuaded IRS counsel during discovery in a matter before the Tax Court to concede $34 million of income adjustments on behalf of an S corporation with substantial real estate development and financing business, resulting in $11 million of tax savings in addition to interest and penalty savings.
  • Obtained Section 9100 relief from the IRS National Office for an S corporation to make a late election that was previously denied by the exam agent at the exam level. The election was critical to the S corporation’s ability to take substantial bad debt and worthless stock losses.
  • Chinese (Cantonese)
  • Chinese (Mandarin)
  • LL.M., Taxation, New York University School of Law
  • J.D., University of California, Hastings College of Law
    Order of the Coif
    Senior Symposium Editor, Hastings Law Journal
    Thurston Society
    magna cum laude
  • B.A., University of California at Santa Cruz


Chambers USA

  • Up and Coming, California: Northern Tax (2024)

International Tax Review Americas Awards

  • Tax Disputes & Litigation Rising Star (2023)


  • ABA Tax Section Meeting, Report on Important Developments in Civil Litigation, February and October 2024
  • Tax Executives Institute Annual Conference, Strategic Management of International Tax Controversies, October 23, 2023
  • Tax Executives Institute, Practical Implications of the Administrative Procedure Act on Tax Controversy & Planning, March 2023
  • Tax Executives Institute, Minimizing Risk of and Defending Penalties, September 2022
  • ABA Tax Section Meeting, IRS Exam – Reflections on Two Years of COVID, May 2022
  • Tax Executives Institute, Attorney-Client Privilege in Tax Planning, March 2022