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Paul McDonald

Paul R. McDonald

Main Office: (253) 284-4410


Paul McDonald has retired as of September 2022.

Prior to Harlowe and Falk, Paul practiced at Thorson McDonald Whitman & Curnutt, PC (previously Thorson Barnett & McDonald, P.C and Birmingham Thorson & Barnett, P.C.) since 1993 when the firm was founded. Prior to that he worked at Karr Tuttle Campbell from September 1987 through September 1993.

Paul practices in the areas of business, federal taxation, employee benefits and health law (ERISA). His practice includes all forms of consultation with respect to employer sponsored retirement plans, including governmental plans. He works closely with trustees and plan committees to honor their obligations as fiduciaries.


Employee Benefits

Mr. McDonald is experienced in all aspects of employee benefits practice.

  • Qualified retirement plans. Mr. McDonald has extensive experience in the design and implementation of tax-qualified deferred compensation plans, including qualified pension, profit-sharing and 401(k) plans, employee stock ownership plans, and 403(b) annuities and custodial account plans. He has handled complex IRS audits of tax qualified plans and benefits litigation.
  • Nonqualified deferred compensation plans. Mr. McDonald has worked extensively in the design and implementation of all forms of nonqualified deferred compensation plans, including qualified and nonqualified stock option plans, phantom stock plans, annuity funded deferred compensation arrangements, Code section 457 plans and Rabbi Trust arrangements.
  • Health and welfare plans. Mr. McDonald has expertise in the design, implementation and management of both insured and self-insured health and welfare plans, voluntary employee benefit associations (“VEBAs”), and related health and welfare issues, including vacation and leave programs, and continuation coverage (“COBRA”).
  • Cafeteria and flexible benefit plans. Mr. McDonald is experienced with the design and implementation of cafeteria and flexible benefit plans, as well as analysis of the technical operational issues, such as timing of benefit elections and permissible modifications of such elections.


Public Plans

Mr. McDonald has extensive experience in the special issues that affect governmental retirement and health plans. He has been working with governmental plans for over 30Â years including the interaction of governmental plans and Social Security for governmental plans that do not participate in Social Security.


  • B.S., Western Washington University, 1982 (Magna Cum Laude)
  • J.D., University of Washington, 1987 (Order of the Coif)
  • American Jurisprudence Award in Contracts, Estate and Gift Tax and Private Land Development



Member of American Bar Association and Washington State Bar Association. Member of the ABA Business Law and Taxation Sections, and Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Committee of the Corporate, Banking and Business Law Section. Member of the WSBA Business Law and Taxation Sections. Member of the Seattle-King County Bar Association, Tax Section and Western Pension Benefits Conference.

  • Washington Lawyers Practice Manual
  • Previously Authored the Chapter, “Taxation of IRAs and Qualified Plan Distributions”
  • Listed in “Best Lawyers In America” and AV rating in Martindale Hubbell