Mardiros “Marty” Dakessian founded Dakessian Law to build the premier law practice dedicated to representing California taxpayers. This strong sense of purpose, combined with Marty’s deep and abiding commitment to his clients, drives him to relentlessly defend their interests with loyalty, integrity and distinction. And the results he has achieved for his clients speak for themselves. Marty not only has a track record of success both at the administrative level and in court, he has shown an unprecedented ability to hold taxing agencies accountable. Over the years, Dakessian and his team have forced California tax agencies to pay attorney fee awards to several clients totaling over $3 million.
Immediately before starting Dakessian Law, Marty ended a successful run as equity partner at Global 20 law firm Reed Smith LLP where he led his team to numerous, impactful administrative and judicial victories. For his efforts, Marty was named “Tax MVP” in 2013 and 2014 by legal publication Law360, which lauded him as “a top-flight litigator.” He received three more Law360 Tax MVP awards in Dakessian Law’s first four years of operations—earning him a total of five Law360 Tax MVPs—more than any other California state and local tax lawyer. Marty’s efforts have even attracted the attention of the California Legislature, with legislative staff referring to him as a “noted tax attorney.”
Marty has more than 20 years of California tax experience, beginning his career with the State Board of Equalization, which at the time was California’s administrative tax court and the world’s second-largest taxing agency. Marty worked for two of the five members who ran the Board—first as graduate research assistant to the Honorable Dean F. Andal, and then as legal counsel to the Honorable Claude W. Parrish, who was Chair of the Board in 2000 and thus served on the three-member Franchise Tax Board, and who is the current Orange County Tax Assessor.
During Marty’s time at the State Board of Equalization, he was responsible for advising Mr. Parrish regarding California franchise and income tax, sales tax and property tax issues. These issues involved taxpayer cases before the Board as well as regulatory, litigation and policy matters.
Observing the inner workings of California’s tax agencies combined with years of experience representing taxpayers have made Marty particularly adept at navigating California’s complex and unique tax system. Law360 agrees, stating that Marty’s experiences have given him “an easy familiarity with the public and private spheres of state tax practice and have been a boon to clients searching for the best ways to fight state assessments.” Although these qualities distinguish him from others in the field, so does his passion for representing taxpayers. As Law360 observed, “his victories are strongly linked to the love he has for his work.”
2016 – Dakessian Law, Ltd.
2010 – Reed Smith LLP
2008 – Akerman Senterfitt
2004 – Dakessian & Associates
2001 – Deloitte & Touche
1999 – State Board of Equalization, Hon. Claude Parrish, Member
University of California, Hastings College of the Law, 1996, J.D.
University of California, Berkeley, 1992, B.A., Political Science
Office of Tax Appeals (OTA) — External Advisory Committee, Member (2019-2020)
California Alliance of Taxpayer Advocates — Board Member (2018-2020)
Institute for Professionals in Taxation (IPT) — Member (2018-Present)
Forbes Los Angeles Business Council — Official Member (2018)
Council On State Taxation (COST) — Member (2016-2019)
Los Angeles County Business Federation (BizFed) — Member (2017)
California Alliance of Taxpayer Advocates — President (2016-2017)
California Alliance of Taxpayer Advocates — Vice President (2015)
California State Bar Taxation Section — Chairman of the State and Local Tax Committee (2004)
State Board of Equalization Member Claude Parrish — Tax Advisory Committee (2002-2007)
State Board of Equalization — Certified Property Tax Appraiser
Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB) — Instructor on sales and franchise tax issues
California Taxpayers’ Association, Member — Board of Directors
November 19, 2020 CalCPA – TaxTrek: Advanced Tax Virtual Conference
Co-Presenter — “California Residency and Business Nexus Issues.” Presentation on the complexity and potential double-taxation issues when relocating from California to other states; California residency rules in general; California sourcing rules; and managing California residency disputes.
October 24, 2019 Council on State Taxation (COST) 50th Annual Meeting
J.W. Marriott – Washington, DC Co-Presenter — “Top 10! – Income Tax – Legislation and Litigation.” Update on the most important litigation and legislation that took place across the nation impacting state and local income taxes, including highlights of the most significant developments and thoughts on future impacts.
September 24, 2019 IPT 2019 Sales Tax Symposium
The Ritz Carlton Orlando, Grand Lakes – Orlando, FL Co-Presenter — “Aggressive State Tax Positions (And How to Combat Them)”
September 17, 2019 WSPA Property Tax Educational Forum
Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Resort – Oxnard, CA Presentation on “State Board of Equalization Powers and Duties.”
March 26, 2019 California Taxpayers Association, 93rd Annual Meeting
Kimpton Sawyer Hotel – Sacramento, CA Panelist — “California Law: The Case of the Overburdened Taxpayer.”
January 29, 2019 USC Gould School of Law 2019 Tax Institute
Millennium Biltmore, Los Angeles, CA “California’s Office of Tax Appeals: One Year After” Presentation and panel discussion regarding the formation and structure of the Office of Tax Appeals, how it operates, and what taxpayers and their representatives can expect in cases before the OTA.
September 20, 2018 TEI (Tax Executives Institute, Inc.) | Houston Chapter | State and Local Roundtable
The Downtown Club at Houston Center – Houston, TX California Tax Update: What you need to know about the new taxing agencies and the latest developments in California income and sales tax law.
March 20, 2018 California Taxpayers Association, 92nd Annual Meeting
Sacramento Convention Center – Sacramento, CA Panelist — “A Brave New World: Everything You Needed to Know About Audits & Appeals.”
January 30, 2018 USC Gould School of Law 2018 Tax Institute
Millennium Biltmore, Los Angeles, CA Presentation and open forum discussion regarding current FTB examination priorities and initiatives, and recent changes in the California administrative appeals process involving the new Office of Tax Appeals.
November 10, 2017 CalCPA – New FTB Office of Tax Appeals Regs. & How to Use Them
Olympic Collection – West Los Angeles, CA Presentation concerning rules and practice of California’s new Office of Tax Appeals.
October 25, 2017 Council On State Taxation (COST) 48th Annual Meeting
Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek – Orlando, FL Panel discussion concerning the State Board of Equalization’s significantly reduced role in sales and use taxation and administrative hearings, and what those changes mean for taxpayers.
October 24, 2017 UCLA Extension – 33rd Annual Tax Controversy Institute
Beverly Hills Hotel – Beverly Hills, CA Presentation concerning new changes in appealing California tax disputes.
August 11, 2017 CalCPA – Appeals After BOE Reorganization: Working with the Office of Tax Appeals Olympic Collection – West Los Angeles, CA Update on the California Board of Equalization reorganization and working with the new tax departments.
November 4, 2016 CalCPA – Federal, State, Local and International Tax Conference
Sheraton Universal – Universal City, CA Franchise Tax Board Issues: California’s complex and unique tax system; personal and corporate income tax issues (including residency/sourcing, apportionment, credits and incentives); and navigating an FTB controversy.
November 3, 2016 ABA 27th Annual Philadelphia Tax Conference
Union League of Philadelphia – Philadelphia, PA Panel discussion addressing current and significant issues in state and local tax litigation with a focus on how in-house counsel may best anticipate and prepare for same.
September 22, 2016 Crowell & Moring LLP –30th Annual Managing Tax Audits and Appeals Seminar
Marina del Rey Marriott – Marina del Rey, CA California litigation practice and procedure (with FTB Litigation Chief Bill Hilson and Crowell partner Don Griswold): Administrative and judicial process in California taxation, including audit, protest, settlement, and appeal, trial and appellate courts; Discussion of active cases from Gillette (Multistate Compact apportionment election) to Abercrombie (constitutionality of combined reporting rules for out-of-state companies) and Hyatt (residency).
March 1, 2016 California Taxpayers Association, 90th Annual Meeting
Sacramento Convention Center – Sacramento, CA “Law & Order: Special Taxpayer Unit” Discussion concerning recent decisions of the California Courts of Appeal and the California Supreme Court in tax-related cases, and what those decisions mean for taxpayers, as well as legal developments from the state’s tax regulatory bodies.
Donald (“Don”) Chomiak is Of Counsel with Dakessian Law where he litigates high-stakes tax matters for the firm’s clients. Don is a seasoned business trial attorney with almost two decades of experience in complex commercial litigation in state and federal courts in areas of law including contract, partnership/LLC disputes, derivative actions, real estate, banking and defamation.
He successfully litigated with co-counsel multiple eight-figure lawsuits against billion-dollar real estate developers on behalf of consumers (2010 – 2017) resulting in the recovery of approximately $80 million for consumers, including his role as co-lead plaintiffs’ counsel in a federal class action that resulted in a $51.15 million settlement and involved the successful defense of an interlocutory appeal to Ninth Circuit.
Before the law, Don was a reconnaissance pilot for the U.S. Navy flying missions in the Far East and Middle East providing battlegroup support or in response to national tasking. He holds a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law, a M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University, and a bachelor’s degree from Bloomsburg University in philosophy and English.
Fordham University School of Law, 2001, J.D.
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, 1989, M.S.
Bloomsburg University, 1987, B.A. Philosophy and English
New York, 2001
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 2015
U.S. District Court Central District of California, 2003
U.S. District Court Eastern District of California, 2003
U.S. District Court Northern District of California, 2003
U.S. District Court Southern District of California, 2003
U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York, 2001
U.S. District Court Southern District of New York, 2001
Los Angeles County Bar Association, Member (2011 – Present)
Kathleen (“Kate”) Dill joined Dakessian Law after more than 20 years in public accounting at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, most recently in its National Tax Services group. During the course of her career, Kate spearheaded California tax controversy matters on income /franchise tax issues for ultra-high-net-worth individuals, as well as a host of companies ranging from Fortune 50 giants to privately held and start-up companies across industries including technology, retail, healthcare, financial, transportation, public utility, private equity, and asset management spaces.
Kate draws upon her deep, technical knowledge of California taxation to apply strategic approaches that help her clients defend against Franchise Tax Board assessments and prosecute refund claims, whether at audit, protest, settlement, or appeals. Kate uses her extensive procedural experience to help her clients understand what is happening, what comes next, when they will need to make a decision, as well as understanding likely potential outcomes during what many clients find to be a stressful and onerous process.
The matters Kate has successfully handled for her corporate clients include unitary issues, apportionment issues, business/nonbusiness issues, water’s-edge issues, and tax credit issues. Kate also brings extensive experience regarding California residency, sourcing and other state tax credit issues, which have helped her ultra-high-net-worth clients pay no more taxes than they legally owe. The results speak for themselves. To date, Kate has saved her clients hundreds of millions of dollars in reduced assessments and refunds.
Lucian Khan specializes in California sales and use tax matters. Before joining Dakessian Law, Lucian worked 22 years with the Legal Department of the California State Board of Equalization. Lucian first worked in the Board’s Appeals Division for 17 years, as a hearing officer, reviewer and supervisor. He authored over 700 tax decisions, reviewed over 5,000 decisions, and supervised a staff of ten attorneys, eight audit supervisors, and support staff. He also managed complex business tax appeals involving large national and international corporations, and specialized in nexus issues, construction contracts, leases, and technology transfers. Many of his decisions have been published by the Board, as sales and use tax annotations. He also has extensive experience in audit techniques and procedures, for identifying errors in audits. In 2004, Lucian received an Individual Sustained Superior Accomplishment award for developing and implementing changes in the format and review process, for streamlining tax decisions. Lucian also worked five years in the Settlement Division where he handled complex tax appeals as a settlement officer and reviewer. Before working for the Board, Lucian was a Deputy District Attorney, where he handled more than 50 jury trials.
Lucian holds a bachelor’s degree in business from California State University, Sacramento, and a law degree from the University of Northern California School of Law, Sacramento. He is a member of the California State Bar.
Michael (“Mike”) Penza advises clients on state and local tax matters. His areas of expertise include income/franchise, sales/use, excise, and telecommunications taxes, as well as unclaimed property. He has represented clients in tax controversies before courts and administrative tribunals throughout the United States, including in California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Prior to joining Dakessian Law, Mike was a senior manager at a public accounting firm and an associate at large law firms, focusing on state and local tax planning and controversy.
Mike graduated with honors from the University of Connecticut School of Law, where he served as a research assistant to leading state and local tax expert, Professor Richard Pomp. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Williams College.
2021 – Dakessian Law, Ltd.
2019 – Ernst & Young LLP
2016 – Morrison & Foerster LLP
2015 – Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP
2013 – Reed Smith LLP
University of Connecticut School of Law, 2013, J.D. (with honors)
Steven (“Steve”) Rauser specializes in multistate tax matters, with an emphasis on California matters. Steven has 15 years of experience in state and local tax matters encompassing income/franchise tax, sales and use tax, gross receipts taxes, and other local taxes. He represents clients at the administrative level and in court.
Prior to joining Dakessian Law, Steve was a director at Andersen Tax, where he focused on state and local tax controversies, tax due diligence, and planning opportunities involving corporations, flow-through entities, and individuals. Prior to that, Steve worked as a tax lawyer for two global law firms.
Steve holds a J.D. from Loyola Law School and an LL.M. in Taxation with distinction from Georgetown University Law Center. He graduated magna cum laude from Loyola Marymount University, with bachelor degrees in accounting and finance.