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Elizabeth J. Atkinson

999 Waterside Drive
Suite 2100
Norfolk, Virginia 23510
Phone:  757.217.4538
Fax:  757.217.4588
2318 Mill Road
Suite 1100
Alexandria, Virginia 22314


Ms. Atkinson focuses her practice on federal, state, local and international taxation and employee benefit matters with emphasis on tax controversy, employment tax issues, and tax and benefits planning. She also practices entertainment law with a focus on tax issues.

She advises employers on the tax and ERISA implications of employee benefit programs including compliance with the Affordable Care Act, taxable and non-taxable fringe benefit plans, multi-employer plans and plan filings and issues involving claims against fiduciaries of plans.

Ms. Atkinson has extensive experience in tax planning and tax litigation. She handles administrative and judicial controversies, which have included favorable resolution of numerous audits, appeals and collections matters. She has testified before Congress and has spoken to numerous groups including CPAs, attorneys, enrolled agents and judges on a wide variety of issues such as offers in compromise, entity formation, sales and use tax, IRS and state collection issues, and 1031 exchanges. Ms. Atkinson advises clients, including CPAs and other legal professionals, on the mitigation of tax and penalty risks related to tax reporting and compliance.

Representative Experience

  • Successfully resolved fiduciary litigation involving claims and penalties regarding Form 5500 filings
  • Resolved an estate and gift tax deficiency over $1 million for zero net deficiency
  • Resolved numerous civil penalty cases including a trust fund case in excess of $1 million with a finding of no liability
  • Resolved numerous Tax Court cases, involving examinations, collection matters, 6015 relief and employer plan issues
  • Settled employment tax audit for a technology company with no change to classification and a minor adjustment to a fringe benefit issue
  • Counseled clients on voluntary disclosures, including offshore income and bank accounts 

Legal Experience

  • LeClairRyan, Norfolk, Virginia 2007 - present
  • Kaufman & Canoles, Norfolk, Virginia, 1998 - 2007
  • IRS District Counsel Office, Detroit, Michigan, 1995 - 1997

Selected Representative Experience

  • Internal Revenue Service, Revenue Officer; Chief, Advisory Unit, 1982-1995

Memberships and Affiliations

  • American Bar Association: Tax Section, Nominating Committee; former Chair, Low Income Taxpayers Committee
  • Virginia Bar Association: Past Chair, Taxation Council
  • Hampton Roads Tax Forum: Past President
  • The Community Tax Law Project: Chair, Advisory Board


  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® in the fields of Litigation & Controversy - Tax, and Tax Law, 2008–2019
  • Listed in Virginia Business magazine's "Legal Elite" in the fields of Taxes/Estates/Trusts/Elder Law, 2011–2012, 2017
  • Listed as a Virginia Super Lawyer in Tax, 2010–2018
  • Named Best Lawyers' 2016 and 2018 Norfolk, VA Tax Law "Lawyer of the Year"
  • Recognized as one of the "Top 50 Women Super Lawyers in Virginia" by Law & Politics magazine, 2012–2013 
  • American Bar Association, Tax Section, Pro Bono Award, 2002