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Spotlight on Atlanta Tax Attorney John Hackney

July 1, 2022, 1:00 PM

Our Spotlight series highlights the careers and lives of tax professionals across the globe. This week’s Spotlight is on attorney John Hackney, a shareholder at Chamberlain Hrdlicka in Atlanta. Hackney represents individuals, small businesses, and large corporate clients in disputes with the IRS and other taxing authorities.

Before going to law school, Hackney was a CPA for PricewaterhouseCoopers in its tax department, focusing on compliance work. After graduating from law school, he clerked for US Tax Court Judge Thomas B. Wells.

In his spare time, Hackney listens to true crime podcasts, cheers for his alma mater—the University of Virginia—and wonders how he could persuade his daughters to choose an African safari over Disney World.

What’s your official title and what does it mean? I am shareholder in our Atlanta Tax Controversy practice. I work with our Atlanta tax team to represent clients during all stages of the Tax Controversy process, including audits, appeals, and litigation.

Free time: book, audiobook or podcast? At home, it’s books. I like having the paper. I listen to podcasts during my commutes. I like true crime and Marc Maron.

Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest? I focus on domestic tax controversy. I really enjoy learning about different subject areas. I particularly enjoy valuation cases. You really get the chance to learn about the nuts and bolts of a company, how they make money, and how they manage their business. Tax controversy has been a truly rewarding area of practice because you get to help taxpayers in need.

What’s the last movie or show that you watched and loved (DVD, Netflix, or in the theater)? The last show I watched and loved was when UVA beat Texas Tech in overtime to win the national championship. On the non-sports side, I’ve liked “Yellowstone” and catching up on “Game of Thrones” and “The Undoing.”

What college did you attend and what did you study? I spent my freshman year at Auburn University. I transferred to Virginia, where I earned a bachelor of science in commerce that focused on finance and accounting. I stayed at Virginia to get a master’s degree in accounting. After a few years in the accounting world, I went to Georgia for law school. My family likes to joke that I am headed to vet school next.

Go to pick-me-up: Coffee or tea? I am born and raised in Atlanta, so Coke Zero.

What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you? The best advice I ever received was from my father: If you take care of your equipment, it will take care of you. It can be applied to any situation. For tax controversy advice, it would be: Win your case in the first two pages—the judge may not read anything else.

If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be? When I was a kid, I dreamed of becoming the Domino’s Pizza man.

If you had the opportunity to make one change in the tax world—an extra credit, a disallowed deduction, whatever—what would it be? Tax lawyers don’t pay taxes!

Favorite food, snack, or candy during tax season or other busy time? During trial prep time, I am living on coffee, Coke Zeros, and peanut butter crackers.

What tax news or move made the most impact on your practice or clients this past year? We’ve been doing a lot of work in the conservation easement defense space. The IRS’s continuing campaign against easements has been keeping our group very busy.

If you received a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it? I have two girls, ages 5 and 7. They would prefer if I took them to Disney World to meet the princess. If I got to choose, which I would not, I would take them to Africa for a safari.

You can find Hackney on LinkedIn.

You can find out more about Hackney’s firm, Chamberlain Hrdlicka, on its website.

If you’d like to recommend a tax pro to be featured, send your suggestion to with the subject: Spotlight. Please include the following information: tax professional’s name, title, email address, and geographic area (city/state/country).

To contact the reporter on this story: Rebecca Baker in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kelly Phillips Erb at