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Suzanne G. Odom


  • (T) 803.540.2018
  • (F) 803.727.1487

Sue Odom is a tax attorney who focuses her practice on three interconnected areas: ERISA, employee benefits, and executive compensation.

Sue has worked extensively with all types of employer-sponsored retirement and welfare benefit plans, including pension, profit sharing, 401(k), 403(b), and 457(b) plans, ESOPs, and health, accident, disability, Section 125, flexible spending, and other welfare plans.  Her clients include large and small for-profit companies across all industry sectors, non-profit corporations, and governmental entities.

Sue is quick to quip, "The life of a tax and employee benefits attorney is not a glamorous one." That said, Sue is very proud of the fact that:

  • The IRS and U.S. Department of Labor have reviewed plans that Sue was responsible for maintaining and with respect to which she provided regular legal advice on administrative matters, and those governmental agencies found no identified compliance problems on audit.
  • She regularly obtains favorable determinations on qualified plans and newly-formed tax-exempt organizations.
  • With solid and proactive fiduciary and business advice, her clients are able to avoid the time and expense of employee benefits litigation.
  • Sue has established close personal and professional working relationships with IRS and Department of Labor representatives. Due to the vast number of submissions and compliance matters she has handled over the years, she knows many of the representatives, understands the government processes, and is very comfortable resolving client matters on the phone and in meetings with the IRS and DOL.  She also has partnered with leadership at the IRS and DOL as members of a planning committee for the University of South Carolina’s Retirement and Benefits Management Seminar.
  • She thinks outside the box and works with clients to find business solutions.


  • University of South Carolina, J.D., 1999
  • University of Florida, LL.M., in Taxation, 2000
  • Michigan State University, B.A., 1996
Bar Admissions

South Carolina

Civic & Professional Memberships
  • The ESOP Association - Member
  • Greater Chapin Community Endowment – Former Board Member and Treasurer
  • American Health Lawyers Association - Former Member
  • Humane Society/SPCA – Former Board Member and Vice President
  • South Carolina Bar – Member
  • St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Chapin, SC - Member
  • Best Lawyers in America - Employment Benefits (ERISA) Law; Tax Law (listed since 2013)
  • "Legal Elite of the Midlands" - Tax Law
  • Leadership Columbia Class of 2004
  • American Jurisprudence Awards in ERISA, Partnership Tax, Corporate Tax, Estate and Gift Tax, Income Tax, Products Liability and Legal Research
  • Arthur B. Custy Tax Award


Sue has extensive experience counsuling clients about Employee Stock Ownership Plans. Typical projects include strategic formation, design, and termination of ESOPs, shareholder stock sales, ERISA fiduciary and prohibited transaction matters, loans and pledge agreements, repurchase liability, contribution, and dividend allocation issues, constructing distribution policies, and advising on voting, diversification, and put option rights.  Sue represents a substantial number of the ESOPs in South Carolina.  In ESOP transactions, she has represented various parties, including selling shareholders, plan sponsor, trustees and the lender.

In early 2014, Sue wrote an article and created an infographic about Employee Stock Ownership Plans.  Her piece entitled "Innovative and Tax Efficient Tools to Meet Your Clients' Business Planning Needs" was widely read after being published by two prominent Palmetto State magazines: South Carolina Lawyer (July 2014) and South Carolina Business (July/August 2014).

"WIS Investigates: The Affordable Care Act"

Just before new health care insurance exchanges opened across the U.S., Columbia's WIS Television presented an hour-long special. Sue joined Steve Coleman from the SC Underwriters Association, Thornton Kirby from the SC Hospital Association and Frank Knapp from the Small Business Chamber of Commerce on a panel that provided insight into the impact the new law is having on employers and small business owners.

Sue’s experience in the employee benefits arena is vast.  She regularly: 

  • Provides guidance about strategic employee benefit matters, such designing or modifying retirement plans to address eligibility exclusions, safe harbor options, automatic enrollment, and employer contribution allocation formulas, and preparing for the changes brought about by the healthcare reform law and other recent developments, such as the employee benefit implications of the recent same sex marriage decision.
  • Updates plans for regulatory changes and submitting plans to the IRS as part of the determination letter program.
  • Works on plan correction matters, including self-correction and voluntary correction with the IRS of operational and document failures and addressing Form 5500 filing deficiencies.
  • Represents clients on IRS and Department of Labor audit matters and proactively helping clients prepare for the same by making sure they understand what actions are expected of them and what documentation the government expects them to maintain.
  • Establishes, terminates, or handles on-going compliance issues involving VEBA (Section 501(c)(9) trusts) and Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOP), including with respect to the latter helping with shareholder stock sales, ESOP loans and pledge agreements, allocation issues, and distribution policies. 
  • Assists with business planning or resolving legal compliance issues involving businesses under common control and affiliated service groups.
  • Advises about complicated tax law discrimination issues affecting retirement, health, group term life insurance and other plans, especially when coverage levels vary between executives or other highly-paid workforce members and other employees.
  • Plans, drafts, and assists with the administration of executive compensation plans, including extensive experience with the design and implementation of nonqualified deferred compensation plans, 457(b) plans, and 457(f) plans.
  • Works with wellness programs, including advise about the imposition of health insurance surcharges on employees who smoke and reasonable alternative standards.
  • Provides guidance regarding the taxation treatment of various fringe benefits, such as employee discounts, moving expenses, and cell phones.
  • Advises clients about income and payroll tax withholding and reporting requirements.
  • Resolves contingent workforce issues (e.g. leased employees, temporary employees, prn), including considering the impact of these workers on the benefits program, preparing needed plan amendments, advising about the needed recordkeeping requirements.
  • Drafts and reviews plan documents, summary plan descriptions, enrollment materials, and other employee communications.
  • Provides guidance about annual notice and filing requirements, such as the notices required by healthcare reform, COBRA notices, the HIPAA Privacy Notice of Privacy Practices and annual reports (Form 5500 series).
  • Addresses employee claim and fiduciary issues.
  • Reviews Qualified Domestic Relations Orders for compliance with applicable law and the terms of the governing plan.

In addition to working in the employee benefits area, Sue also regularly advises clients about tax-exempt organization matters.  Her clients include public charities and private foundations described in Section 501(c)(3), social welfare organizations under Section 501(c)(4), Section 501(c)(6) trade associations, Section 501(c)(12) electric cooperatives, and many others. 

Sue’s experience in the tax-exempt organization context includes establishing and dissolving non-profit entities, submitting determination letter requests to the IRS, and advising about on-going compliance issues involving:

  • Private inurement and private benefit;
  • Excess benefit transactions;
  • Conflict of interest issues;
  • Lobbying and political activity restrictions;
  • Annual report (Form 990) requirements; and
  • Unrelated business income tax (UBIT). 
Related Insights

Sue is a leader in her field and regularly invited to speak and write about employee benefits.  Some of her presentations include:

  • "What's Your Next Step? Surviving an IRS/DOL Audit," CSHRM Seminar - April 2018 
  • “Deferred Compensation Plans and their Role in Succession and Family Planning,” Estate Planning for the Family Business Owner 2017, hosted by American Law Institute, Charleston, SC – November 3, 2017
  • Panelist, “Buy-Sell Agreements,” Estate Planning for the Family Business Owner 2017, hosted by American Law Institute, Charleston, SC – November 3, 2017
  • "Hot topics in Employee Benefits" - 2017 SCACPA Spring Conferences 
    Moderator: Nexsen Pruet Nonprofit Symposium - February 24, 2017
  • "Navigating Legal and Ethical Issues," Essential Skills and Strategies for New Grantmakers Conference, hosted by the Southeastern Council on Foundations, Columbia, SC - August 24, 2016
  • "The Latest Developments in Employee Benefits," SCACPA Seminar - May 2016
  • "What You Need-to-Know, but Want-to-Forget," CSHRM Seminar - April 2016
  • "Hot Topics in Tax and Employee Benefits Law," SCACPA - CPAs in Business and Industry Conference - May 11, 2015
  • "Legal Considerations for Wellness Programs," SCHA Working Well Spring Meeting - April 29, 2015
  • "4 Gotchas and 1 Gimme: Important Developments in Tax and Employee Benefits Law," CPAs in Business and Industry Conference, Columbia, SC - May 15, 2014
  • "Trends in Executive and Physician Compensation and Benefits" NC/SC Healthcare Human Resources Associations Joint Conference, Wild Dunes Resort, Isle of Palms, SC - May 1, 2014
  • Appearance on "WIS Investigates: The Affordable Care Act" in September, 2013
  • "A Year in the Life of a 401(k) Plan" CPAs in Business & Industry Conference, The South Carolina Association of CPAs, Columbia, SC, May 21-22, 2012
  • "Plan Sponsor Perspectives on Health Care Reform" 41st Annual Retirement and Benefits Management Seminar, University of South Carolina's Darla Moore School of Business, Columbia, SC, April 26-27, 2012
  • "Classifying Workers - Who is Eligible?" 2012 National Institue of Pension Administrators Annual Forum & Expo, Las Vegas, NV, April 29-May 2, 2012
  • "The Classification of Workers and Impact on Benefit Plans" 40th Annual Retirement and Benefits Management Seminar, University of South Carolina's Darla Moore School of Business, Charlotte, NC, April 28-29, 2011
  • "The Economy Takes a Swing at 401(k) Plans" & "The New 'Normal' for Plan Administration" 2010 National Institute of Pension Administrators Annual Forum & Expo, Las Vegas, May 2-10, 2010
  • Employee Benefits: Legalities in Discrimination of Health Benefits" 2010 SCACPA Industry Conference, Columbia, SC, October 11-12, 2010


As a native of Troy, Michigan, Sue regularly is asked:  “What brought you down to South Carolina?”  Sue is quick to answer:  “The sunshine.”

After graduating from Michigan State, Sue fearlessly followed the sunshine down to South Carolina to attend law school.  This is in spite of her not knowing a single person residing in the State or ever having spent more than a couple family vacations here.  Upon Sue’s arrival in the heat of a Columbia, South Carolina summer, Sue fell in love with the State and knew that South Carolina is where she would spend the rest of her days.

Sue now calls Chapin, South Carolina her home, where she resides on Lake Murray with her husband and two children.  The Odom family spends every moment they can outdoors boating and swimming in the pool, soaking in the sun.

Sue’s love of the sun is only matched by her passion for music.  Perhaps appropriately, her maiden and now middle name is “Guitar.”

Sue also thoroughly enjoys spending time with family and friends, going to college football games to cheer on the Gamecocks and the Spartans, traveling, camping and hiking.  Ask Sue about her vacation travels sometime – she’ll tell you about her adventures.

Sue OdomSue Odom outside NP photo

"I believe in giving businesses options – letting them decide which approach fits them best after considering the pros and cons of each."