Joseph C. Bright

Member

Philadelphia

(215) 665-2053

(866) 206-6090

Joe concentrates in state and local taxation, regularly assisting business and individual taxpayers regarding corporate, financial institution, sales and use, income, real estate, transfer, and all other state and local taxes. A former chief counsel of the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, he has since represented hundreds of taxpayers — including businesses, individuals, and nonprofit entities — in state and local tax planning, administrative, legislative, and litigation matters.

Joe is the author of "Taxation," a two-volume treatise on Pennsylvania state and local taxation published by West Group as part of Summary of Pennsylvania Jurisprudence 2d, which has been cited in multiple decisions by both the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. He also has written many articles on state and local tax topics. A book review of Taxation in State Tax Notes described the first edition as the leading treatise on Pennsylvania state taxation and Joe as one of the leading state practitioners in the nation.

Joe was nominated by the leadership of the House of Representatives to the 2004 Pennsylvania Business Tax Reform Commission. He is a fellow of the American College of Tax Counsel, is listed in Who's Who in America and is ranked as a Band 1 tax lawyer by Chambers & Partners USA. Clients described Joe as “a true state and local [tax] legend,” “well versed in complex tax planning matters,” and having “litigation prowess,” and peers have referred to him as a leading commentator on property assessment appeals, particularly with respect to uniformity issues. 

Joe serves on Villanova University's School of Law Graduate Advisory Board. He also serves as vice president of the board of directors of Camphill Village Kimberton Hills, Inc. He served as a board member of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, vice chair of the Children's Hospital Foundation, president of the board of trustees of St. Peter's School in Philadelphia, president of the Society Hill Civic Association, and a trustee of the Philadelphia General Hospital Research Fund.

Joe earned his undergraduate degree, cum laude, from Harvard University and his law degree, cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where was the managing editor of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. From 1965-67, he served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army and received a Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service.

Experience

News

More Than 205 Cozen O’Connor Attorneys Named Best Lawyers and Ones to Watch By The Best Lawyers In America

August 19, 2021

Best Lawyers selected 210 Cozen O’Connor lawyers from 23 of the firm’s nationwide offices for inclusion in the 2022 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

82 Cozen O’Connor Lawyers, 19 Practices Earn Top Recognition in Chambers USA 2021 Guide

May 26, 2021

Chambers USA, the leading annual guide to the top lawyers and law firms in the United States, has ranked 82 Cozen O’Connor lawyers as leaders in their respective fields in the guide’s 2021 edition; of those, 15 lawyers have been recognized nationally.

More Than 200 Cozen O’Connor Attorneys Named Best Lawyers and Ones to Watch By The Best Lawyers In America

August 20, 2020

Best Lawyers selected 201 Cozen O’Connor lawyers from 23 of the firm’s nationwide offices for inclusion in the 2021 edition of The Best Lawyers in America© (Copyright 2020 by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, SC).

63 Cozen O’Connor Lawyers, 16 Practices Earn Top Recognition in Chambers USA 2020 Guide

May 14, 2020

Chambers USA, the leading annual guide to the top lawyers and law firms in the United States, has ranked 63 Cozen O’Connor lawyers as leaders in their respective fields in the guide’s 2020 edition.

138 Cozen O’Connor Attorneys Named to the Best Lawyers in America

August 28, 2019

Best Lawyers selected 138 Cozen O’Connor lawyers from 21 of the firm’s national offices for inclusion in the 2020 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

57 Cozen O’Connor Lawyers, 16 Practices Earn Top Recognition in Chambers USA 2019 Guide

April 25, 2019

Chambers USA, the leading annual guide to the top lawyers and law firms in the USA, has ranked 57 Cozen O’Connor lawyers as leaders in their respective fields in the Guide’s 2019 edition.

126 Cozen O’Connor Attorneys Named to the Best Lawyers in America

August 22, 2018

One hundred twenty-six Cozen O’Connor lawyers from 20 of the firm’s national offices have been selected for inclusion in the 2018 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

165,000 Philly homeowners may be paying too much in property taxes. Is the city assessing property fairly?

August 10, 2018

Joseph Bright, a member of the firm’s Tax Practice, discusses the inaccurate assessment of home values in Philadelphia an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

INSIGHT: Attack on E-Cigarette Tax Succeeds in Part

August 02, 2018

Joseph Bright, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Tax Practice, authored an article in Bloomberg Daily Tax Report: State on The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court’s ruling that the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue can tax electronic cigarettes as tobacco products.

100 Cozen O’Connor Lawyers Named to the Best Lawyers in America

August 23, 2017

Lawyers were selected for inclusion in the 2018 edition based on a rigorous peer-review that has been developed and defined for more than 30 years.

Cozen O’Connor Earns Client Recognition in 2017 Chambers USA Rankings

May 26, 2017

Chambers USA recognized 47 Cozen O’Connor lawyers as leaders in their respective fields; 14 attorneys were recognized nationally and 11 were ranked in the top band.

Publications

2021 Could Increase Uniformity of Taxation of Real Estate in Pennsylvania

January 27, 2021

Joe Bright and Heidi Schwartz provide an analysis of Autozone Development Corp.’s appeal of a property tax assessment that is pending before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

As the Pandemic Spreads, So Does the Reach of State Nexus

December 04, 2020

Heidi Schwartz and Joe Bright co-authored an article in Bloomberg Tax addressing the reporting challenges and potential tax bills confronting employers whose employees are working from home in jurisdictions outside of the employer’s workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Sustains Revenue’s Source Analysis

September 17, 2020

Joe Bright and Heidi Schwartz co-authored an article published in Bloomberg Tax analyzing the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court’s recent decision in Synthes USA HQ, Inc. v. Pennsylvania.

Automatic Carryforward of Prior Residential Appeals Is Not Evidence of Uniform Assessments in Pennsylvania

August 11, 2020

Joseph Bright and Bob Careless co-authored an article, published by Bloomberg Tax, analyzing a recent decision by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania that is favorable to commercial taxpayers facing selective reverse assessment appeals. Bright and Careless note that decision in the case, Colonial School District v. Metroplex West Associates, L.P., undercuts a common argument by localities in relying on the automatic carryforward of residential appeals when defending against claims of uniformity clause violations.

Real Estate Tax Appeals [Alert]

April 30, 2020

Joe Bright advises real estate owners to consider filing an appeal of the assessed values assigned to properties for the tax year 2021.

INSIGHT: ‘Kaestner’ Opens Door for Challenges to State Taxation of Trust Income [Bloomberg Tax]

October 15, 2019

Heidi Schwartz and Joe Bright explain the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in N.C. Dep’t of Revenue v. Kimberley Rice Kaestner 1992 Family Trust, holding that a state cannot tax income from an out-of-state trust based solely on the beneficiaries' residence in the state.

Royalty Fees Not Subject to Pennsylvania Sales Tax [Alert]

November 29, 2018

Joseph C. Bright and Heidi R. Schwartz discuss Downs Racing, LP v. Commonwealth and the court's decision that royalty fees are intangible legal rights that do not fall within the meaning of corporeal personal property or canned software.

Pennsylvania Refund Request Untimely [Tax Alert]

September 18, 2018

Joseph Bright discusses the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court dismissal of a taxpayer’s petition that requested reversal of an order of the Board of Finance and Revenue in Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment Inc. v. Commonwealth

Philadelphia Soda Tax Survives [Tax Alert]

August 01, 2018

Joseph Bright discusses the decision in Williams v. City of Philadelphia holding that whether a city tax is preempted under the Sterling Act will depend on the incidence of the tax — that is, on what or whom the tax is imposed.

Insight: Wholesaler of Electricity Is Subject to Gross Receipts Tax [Bloomberg Law]

May 24, 2018

Joseph Bright, a member of Cozen O'Connor's Tax Practice Group, wrote an article for Bloomberg Law discussing the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court recently ruling that an electric wholesaler is subject to the state's gross receipts tax

Update on Tax Cases from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [Tax Alert]

February 22, 2018

Joe Bright discusses recent decisions by the Commonwealth Court that will impact Pennsylvania taxpayers.

Flat Dollar Minimum on Pennsylvania Net Loss Carryover Deduction Held Unconstitutional [Bloomberg BNA]

December 27, 2017

Joseph Bright and Heidi Schwartz, members of Cozen O’Connor’s Tax Practice Group, discuss the Nextel Communications of the Mid-Atlantic, Inc. v. Commonwealth case in Bloomberg BNA.

Freight Broker Is Not Entitled to Deduct Freight Delivery Charges [Bloomberg BNA]

November 16, 2017

Joe Bright and Bob Careless, members of Cozen O’Connor’s Tax Practice Group, discuss the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court’s decision that a freight broker, who was taxed on delivery charges although it did not provide delivery services, does not fall within the freight delivery exception of the Local Tax Enabling Act (LTEA) in Bloomberg BNA.

Department Bound by its Own Regulation [Bloomberg BNA]

October 03, 2017

Joseph Bright and Heidi Schwartz, members of Cozen O’Connor’s Tax Practice, discuss the Saturday Family L.P. v. Commonwealth case in Bloomberg BNA, in which the Commonwealth Court en banc held that Pennsylvania Realty Transfer Tax could not be imposed on a ground lease that contained an option for renewal at fair rental value that included an appraisal procedure.

Guardrail Installation Items Are Exempt From Sales Tax [Bloomberg BNA]

August 15, 2017

Joseph Bright and Heidi Schwartz, members of Cozen O’Connor’s Tax Practice, discuss a case which found that all nuts, bolts, and washers used to install a guardrail system on a road or highway for Pennsylvania were exempt from sales tax in Bloomberg BNA.

School District Appeals of Only Commercial Properties are Unconstitutional

August 08, 2017

Joseph Bright, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Tax Practice, discusses the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s finding that selective appeals of only commercial property violated the state uniformity clause in Valley Forge Towers Apartments N LP v. Upper Merion School District in Bloomberg BNA.

Appeal Dismissed for Failure to File Post Trial Motions

June 13, 2017

Joseph Bright and Robert Careless, of Cozen O'Connor's Tax Practice Group, discuss a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court case where an appellate issue was lost by the failure to file a post-trial motion.

Sales to Industrial Development Authority Are Not Sales for Resale

June 06, 2017

Joseph Bright, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Tax Practice Group, discusses a recent Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court case that found American Electric Power liable for the gross receipts tax in an article for Bloomberg BNA.

Unpublished Commonwealth Court Panel Opinion Exemplifies Complexity of Applying Pennsylvania’s Purely Public Charity Exception [Bloomberg BNA]

May 18, 2017

Joseph Bright, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Tax Practice Group, and Heidi Schwartz, an associate in the Tax Practice Group, discuss the Huston Properties case and the rules it applied for "purely public charity" tax exemptions.

Commonwealth Court Unanimously Holds that Local Business Privilege Tax Must be Fairly Apportioned [Tax Alert]

May 11, 2017

The court overruled the trial court that the assessment must be stricken, and instead remanded the case to the lower court to apportion the receipts consistent with its opinion.

Pennsylvania Net Operating Loss Cap After Nextel

May 10, 2017

Joseph Bright and Heidi Schwartz discuss the impact of the Nextel case in Bloomberg BNA.

Recent Tax Updates from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [Tax Alert]

February 01, 2017

Joseph C. Bright discusses three recent rulings by the Commonwealth Court regarding sales and use tax.

Events & Seminars

Past Events

Pennsylvania Tax Treatment of Digital Assets

June 18, 2018 - Philadelphia, PA

Keystone Conference on Business and Policy

November 19, 2015 - Philadelphia, PA

PBI's Philadelphia and Commonwealth Taxes Program

September 16, 2014 - Philadelphia, PA

June 2014 Tax Supper Group Meeting

June 11, 2014 - Philadelphia, PA

Practice Areas

Education

  • University of Pennsylvania Law School, J.D., cum laude, 1970
  • Harvard University, B.A., cum laude, 1964

Awards & Honors

Fifty-Year Member, Pennsylvania Bar Association President's Award, 2021

Best Lawyers in America 2017-2022

Chambers & Partners USA: Pennsylvania Tax 2016-2021

Pennsylvania Super Lawyers 2004-2009

  • Pennsylvania
  • American Bar Association
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association
  • Pennsylvania Economy League
  • Philadelphia Bar Association