Bar Admissions

  • Virginia
  • District of Columbia
  • Tennessee


  • LL.M., Taxation, Georgetown University, 1987
  • J.D., Memphis State University, 1981
  • B.A., magna cum laude, Theil College, 1969
T +1 703.760.1917
F +1 703.821.8949

John A. Wilhelm


John Wilhelm counsels businesses regarding employee benefits and compensation matters, including the establishment, operation, and tax and ERISA implications of qualified retirement plans including pensions, 401(k) plans and ESOPs, nonqualified deferred compensation plans and stock option, stock purchase and restricted stock plans. This includes advice regarding establishing and maintaining the tax-exempt status of VEBAs and profit-sharing, pension and welfare benefit trusts and the application of UBIT to any of their profit making activities. This also includes advice in structuring nonqualified deferred compensation plans to comply with Internal Revenue Code Section 409A.

John has extensive experience in representing companies in connection with IRS and Labor Department audits of their employee benefit plans, including representation at the appeals levels of these agencies. John also has assisted numerous companies in addressing problems with their employee benefit plans under the various correction programs of these agencies including the IRS Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System and its Voluntary Correction and Self Correction Programs and the Labor Department's Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program and Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program.

John also works with the firm's business transactions group in handling employee benefits issues in merger and acquisition transactions including such matters as dealing with qualified plan issues, handling equity compensation of the target and dealing with golden parachute rules.

Significant Matters

Recent matters include the following:  (1) representing Guthy-Renker LLC in the 2016 sale of a majority interest of its worldwide Proactiv business, the world's leading non prescription acne brand, to NestlĂ© Skin Health; (2) assisting company in restructuring qualified retirement programs, including frozen defined benefit plan and multiple profit sharing plans; (3) correcting significant problems in the 401(k) plans of several different clients using the various correction programs put in place by the IRS; (4) counseling regarding the application of the Section 409A rules for nonqualified deferred compensation; (5) representing plan sponsors in Labor Department audits involving allegations of prohibited transactions and breach of fiduciary duties and IRS audits involving retirement plan qualification issues; (6) putting in place a growth participation program to grant interests in a limited liability company to management personnel; and (7) assisting several companies in granting equity ownership to management personnel and other employees on a tax-favored basis through the establishment of employee stock ownership, stock purchase, stock option, and/or restricted stock plans.


Actively involved in organizations related to his profession, John is a member of the Section of Taxation, Employee Benefits Committee and its Administrative Practice Subcommittee, American Bar Association.