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M. John Burgess

Bank of America Plaza
101 E. Kennedy Boulevard
Suite 2800
Tampa, FL 33602


Vicki Wray

M. John Burgess assists clients with all types of employee benefit plans, including tax-qualified pension plans, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), health and welfare plans, and executive compensation arrangements.  He counsels clients on plan documentation (including drafting plan documents, SPDs, amendments, and plan administrative procedures), plan qualification (including representing clients before the Internal Revenue Service), and other benefit plan issues, including tax and fiduciary matters.  In addition, he regularly advises clients on benefits issues in the context of business mergers and acquisitions, including assistance with due diligence on benefit plans sponsored by an acquired company.

John is also a certified public accountant with an extensive tax and accounting background, which includes experience as an auditor with a large accounting firm.  He is well versed in individual, corporate, partnership and estate and gift taxation issues at both the federal and state levels and uses that knowledge to assist clients in tax planning and compliance issues, including matters for international employees and non-profit organizations.

John currently devotes a significant portion of his practice to ESOPs, advising clients on matters such as plan design, distribution policies, the structure and implementation of ESOP transactions, and administration matters.  He is active within the ESOP community and frequently presents on ESOP issues at national and regional conferences.

John has significant experience in assisting clients with the correction of errors in both qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, including representing clients in Voluntary Compliance Program applications before the IRS.  He also regularly assists clients with executive employment agreements, severance agreements, change in control agreements and non-qualified deferred compensation plans, including compliance with Internal Revenue Code Sections 409A, 457(b) and 457(f).

Professional and Community Affiliations

  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
  • The Florida Bar, Tax Section
  • Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants
  • National Center for Employee Ownership
  • The ESOP Association
  • Tampa Bay Pension Council

News Releases


03.01.2018Aiding Employees After a Disaster Via Sec. 139, Journal of Accountancy Tax Practice Corner (2018)
02.19.2018New Disability Claims Procedures for ERISA Plans Become Effective on April 1, 2018
10.10.2017Client Alert: Congress Provides More Hurricane Relief for Employees and Employers
09.25.2017Client Alert: How Employers Can Aid in Hurricane Irma Recovery
March/April 2011Co-Author, "ESOP Distribution Policies," Compensation & Benefits Review
January/February 2011"Strategies for ESOPs Under the New Diversification Requirements," Compensation & Benefits Review
April 2009"The COBRA Subsidy in the Stimulus Package: What It Is and What You Need to Do Now," Employment Law Strategist
2002"When Tax Law and Indian Law Collide: How Pull-Tab Games Got to the Supreme Court," Cleveland State Law Review

Events and Presentations

10.03.2017National Center for Employee Ownership Fall ESOP Forum
04.12.2016"Unique Issues in Starting and Sustaining an ESOP in Small Companies," NCEO 2016 Employee Ownership Conference, Minneapolis, MN
03.18.2016"The IRS Determination Letter Program and your ESOP," ESOP Mid-Atlantic Chapter Meeting, Williamsburg, VA
04.23.2015"Terminating or Freezing Your ESOP," NCEO 2015 Employee Ownership Conference, Denver, CO
03.23.2015"Life After Dudenhoeffer," ESOP Invitational, Pinehurst, NC
04.08.2014"Basic ESOP Distribution Rules," NCEO 2014 Employee Ownership Conference, Atlanta, GA
03.24.2014"Regulatory Update," ESOP Invitational, Williamsburg, VA
04.25.2013"Basic ESOP Distribution Rules," NCEO/Beyster Institute 2013 Employee Ownership Conference, Seattle, WA
03.25.2013"Basic ESOP Administration," ESOP Invitational, Pinehurst, NC
04.25.2012"Basic ESOP Distribution Rules," NCEO/Beyster Institute 2012 Employee Ownership Conference, Minneapolis, MN

Alternate biographies





  • LL.M., Case Western Reserve University School of Law, 2003
  • J.D., magna cum laude, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University, 2002
  • B.B.A., cum laude, University of Cincinnati, 1997

Bar and Court Admissions

  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Ohio
  • United States Tax Court