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Marcus S. Owens

Co-Chair, Nonprofits & Tax-Exempt Organizations

Marc Owens Photo


Marcus Owens represents a broad range of nonprofit organizations, including private foundations, charities, lobbying/political organizations and trade associations. The context has ranged from tax planning, the process of formation and application for exemption, through IRS and state attorney general investigations, including complex audits by IRS Exempt Organizations Financial Investigative Units. Marcus’ focus includes executive compensation, excess benefit and self-dealing excise taxes, as well as the impact of digital and social media on tax exempt organizations. His experience also extends to social impact investing and program-related investments. Particular projects have involved the emerging rules for foreign grant making and organizations interested in public policy but concerned with legislative and political activities. Marcus is also a frequent lecturer, writer and commenter on the complex laws affecting exempt organizations.

Prior to entering private practice, Marcus was employed by the Exempt Organizations Division of the Internal Revenue Service and served as the division's director for ten years. In that capacity, he was the chief decision maker regarding design and implementation of federal tax rulings and enforcement programs for exempt organizations, political organizations and tax-exempt bonds. He also served as the IRS's primary liaison with other federal agencies, Congress, and state regulators on exempt organizations issues.


  • 杜克大学法学院, 法学博士
  • Florida State University, 文学学士


  • District of Columbia Court of Appeals


  • Florida
  • 哥伦比亚特区
  • U.S. Tax Court
  • United States Supreme Court


  • Named "Lawyer of the Year" in Nonprofit/Charities Law for Washington, D.C. by The Best Lawyers in America (2022 and 2024) 
  • Named "Best Lawyer" in Trusts and Estates Law (2008-2017), Tax Law (2018-2024) and Non-Profit / Charities Law (2018-2024), The Best Lawyers in America, published by Woodward White, Inc.
  • Named a "Hall of Fame Lawyer" in The Legal 500 US in Nonprofit and Tax-Exempt Organizations, published by Legalease Limited and John Pritchard (2011, 2013-2014 and 2016-2023)
  • Named "Washington, DC Super Lawyer" in Nonprofit Organizations by Thomson Reuters (2012-2021)
  • Named to the District of Columbia Courts' Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll (2022)
  • Named in Chambers USA, America's Leading Lawyers for Business, in District of Columbia (2009-2012) 
  • Named in NonProfit Times as Top 50 Most Influential People in the NonProfit Sector (1998-1999 and 2001)
  • Recipient, Commissioner's Award, Internal Revenue Service
  • Highest "AV Preeminent (5 out of 5)" Professional Rating, Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory


  • Director, The Pemsel Case Foundation
  • Member, American Bar Association, Section on Taxation; Co-Chair, Subcommittee on Audits and Appeals, Exempt Organizations Committee 
  • Member, American Health Lawyers Association