Sharon P. Want is a Member in Caplin & Drysdale's Exempt Organizations practice group. She first joined the firm as an Associate from 2002 to 2006 and returned in 2015 as Of Counsel, bringing to the firm the benefit of more than eight years of experience in government service and the charitable sector.


Ms. Want helps organizations accomplish their tax-exempt purposes by providing sound advice on operational and programmatic issues such as:

  • making public charity and private foundation grants to domestic and foreign organizations;
  • engaging in advocacy while following rules on lobbying and political activity;
  • establishing board governance practices to support compliance with legal requirements;
  • structuring relationships and transactions between affiliated organizations;
  • determining reasonable compensation and avoiding self-dealing; and
  • minimizing or avoiding tax on unrelated business activities.

Ms. Want offers practical guidance informed by her years as in-house counsel at the American Cancer Society (ACS).  From 2006 to 2011, she was the primary legal adviser on tax, lobbying disclosure, and election law issues for ACS and its 501(c)(4) affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. From 2013 to 2015, Ms. Want was responsible for legal issues associated with ACS's global health and government-funded programs, as well as for a range of federal tax issues.
In addition, Ms. Want is well qualified to represent organizations before the IRS, whether they are under examination or seeking a ruling or a determination.  From 2011 to 2013, she was Senior Technical Advisor to the Director of Exempt Organizations, Internal Revenue Service. She worked closely with EO Examinations on cases involving executive compensation and unrelated business income tax and with EO Determinations on a range of issues.


Before entering the legal profession, Ms. Want worked on corporate governance issues for the Council of Institutional Investors and the Investor Responsibility Research Center and on fundraising for Bryn Mawr College.   She also volunteered for the Women’s Law Project in Philadelphia, PA.

Admissions & Education

Bar & Court Admissions
  • District of Columbia
  • Maryland

J.D., Georgetown University Law Center, 2002, cum laude

B.A., University of Virginia, 1984, Government and Economics, with high distinction

Government Service

Senior Technical Advisor, Internal Revenue Service, Exempt Organizations Division, Office of the Director, 2011–2013

Summer Law Clerk, Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle, U.S. District Court, D.C., 2000

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