Joel Swearingen - Project Finance - Public Finance - Nixon Peabody LLP

Joel Swearingen

Joel Swearingen is a partner in the firm’s Project Finance and Public Finance practice group, representing issuers, underwriters, and borrowers on a variety of public finance transactions. He also has substantial experience in the field of tax withholding and information reporting, both internationally and domestically.

What do you focus on?

My practice includes representing clients on tax matters present in connection with public finance transactions. I also advise clients on the information reporting and withholding responsibilities (imposed by federal tax laws) associated with payments to non-employees, including payments reported on forms 1099 and 1042-S.

Public Finance

I represent issuers in traditional governmental financings, conduit borrowers (mostly 501(c)(3) organizations), and underwriters—all in connection with the issuance of tax-advantaged bonds. I am involved at all stages of the financing to ensure that a project is eligible to be financed with tax-advantaged bonds, that the terms pursuant to which such bonds are issued do not jeopardize the tax-advantaged status of the bonds, and that the bonds continue to qualify as tax-advantaged following the issue date of the bonds.

I encourage compliance with federal tax law limitations by ensuring that my clients understand and are informed about the limits imposed on their tax-advantaged bonds.

International Withholding and Tax Reporting

I have substantial experience representing clients in connection with international withholding and tax reporting obligations imposed on non-employee payments. My experience includes advising clients on their Chapters 3 and 4 (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) withholding obligations with respect to international payments to non-employees as well as their backup withholding obligations on domestic non-employee payments. These issues are a critical consideration for mergers, acquisitions, bankruptcies, debt and equity transactions as well as the majority of everyday business activities.

Representative Experience

  • Assisted with a bond-financed acquisition of an online educational institution where the acquired assets were almost exclusively intangible assets.
  • Coordinated the tax compliance of over thirty state departments while assisting a state issuer issue over $8 billion in tax-advantaged bonds.
  • Assisted issuer participants in the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS’s) Voluntary Closing Agreement Program to remediate potential violations of tax law restrictions imposed on tax-advantaged bonds and represented issuers in connection with obtaining private letter rulings.
  • Represent local banks in connection with the purchase of qualified 501(c)(3) bonds.
  • Successfully remediated $6 million of tax exposure for clients with undocumented foreign payees subject to 30 percent foreign withholding under Section 881.
  • Represented corporate taxpayers in successfully abating over $1 million of penalties assessed by the Internal Revenue Service, pursuant to Sections 6721 and 6722 of the Internal Revenue Code.
  • Managed multiple foreign and domestic information reporting projects for multinational clients.


  • “Legislative Momentum to Restore Advance Refundings,” Nixon Peabody Public Finance Alert, July 30, 2020
  • “IRS Provides Relief for Municipal Bond Issuers in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic,” Nixon Peabody Public Finance Alert, May 7, 2020
  • “Federal Tax Issues Relating to Long-Term Financing of Working Capital Expenditures,” Nixon Peabody Public Finance Alert, April 7, 2020
  • “New Proposed IRS Regulations from Transactions from the Use of LIBOR to Other Interbank Offering Rates,” Nixon Peabody Public Finance Alert, October 30, 2019
  • “Complex Path Ahead in Post-Deadline FATCA Universe,” Bloomberg/BNA
  • “Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act: U.S. Payors Need to Act Now to Avoid Taxation Later,” Nixon Peabody Tax Alert, May 31, 2012 (Coauthor)

New York State Thruway Authority sets $2.2 billion sale of PIT bonds

Bond Buyer | July 11, 2022

This article on the New York State Thruway Authority’s planned sale of $2.2 billion of personal income tax bonds mentions NP as co-bond counsel. The NP team advising on the bond sale includes New York City partners Chris Reitzel and Adam Gordon, counsel Abbie Olsen, and associates Georgia Sackey and Kate Stack; Rochester partner Barry Carrigan; Washington, DC partners Bruce Serchuk and Joel Swearingen; and Albany counsel Jeff Pohl, all of the Project Finance & Public Finance practice.

People on the move in public finance

The Bond Buyer | February 08, 2022

This rundown of industry moves and promotions highlights the elevation of Washington, DC Project Finance & Public Finance partner Joel Swearingen as part of NP’s 2022 new partner class.


The Washington Post | February 07, 2022

This column of noteworthy regional hires and promotions mentions Corporate partner Pierce Han and Project Finance & Public Finance partner Joel Swearingen, both of the Washington, DC office, for their recent promotions to partner.

Los Angeles makes tender offer ahead of taxable MICLA refunding

The Bond Buyer | February 18, 2021

This article mentions the firm as bond counsel on the City of Los Angeles’ hybrid tender offer and refunding related to the Municipal Improvement Corporation of Los Angeles lease revenue bonds. The NP team includes Los Angeles partners Jade Turner-Bond and Dan Deaton; San Francisco partner Travis Gibbs; Washington, D.C. associate Joel Swearingen; and Los Angeles associate David Song—all of the Project Finance & Public Finance group.

New York State's over $2.1 PIT bond sale should see demand, analysts say

The Bond Buyer | December 14, 2020

This article mentions the firm as co-bond counsel to Empire State Development Corporation’s scheduled issuance of PIT bonds on behalf of New York State in a competitive deal to fund capital projects, for the work by New York City partner Chris Reitzel, counsel Abbie Olsen and associates Adam Gordon and Kate Stack, and Washington, D.C. partner Bruce Serchuk and associate Joel Swearingen, all in the Project Finance & Public Finance group.

DASNY sells over $2.5B of PIT bonds; munis unchanged in face of large supply

The Bond Buyer | October 08, 2020

This article on the state of the municipal bond market covers the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York’s sale of almost $2.5 billion of personal income tax receipt bonds. The firm is mentioned as bond counsel for the work by New York partners Chris Reitzel and Virginia Wong, and associates Adam Gordon and Kate Stack; Albany counsel Jeff Pohl; and Washington, D.C. partner Bruce Serchuk and associate Joel Swearingen, all of the Project Finance & Public Finance group.


Joel Swearingen


Washington, DC

Phone: 202-585-8280

Fax: 844-698-3758

Georgetown University, LL.M., Taxation

Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, J.D.

Ohio State University, B.S., Economics

District of Columbia

Joel was named to the 2022 list of “Ones to Watch” by The Best Lawyers in America© for Tax Law in Los Angeles, CA.

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