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Tax Law

The Curriculum

Lewis & Clark Law School offers students in its J.D. program an unusually rich tax curriculum, with about a dozen courses relating directly to taxation. As in most law schools, nearly all students take Income Taxation I, an introduction to the fundamentals of the U.S. tax system. After this course, students are invited to explore many other facets of the tax law. At the higher levels of legal training, our law school especially distinguishes itself.

In the realm of business taxation, students can choose from two curricular tracks. The first track, designed for those who plan to enter business practice without specializing in taxation, consists of a single upper-level course, Corporate and Partnership Tax (Short Course). This course provides an overview of the taxation of corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies, yet employs a condensed format designed to fit a typical student’s crowded schedule. The other track, for those who intend to concentrate on tax matters in practice, provides more complete coverage of the same subjects through two courses, Corporate Taxation and Partnership Taxation. When demand warrants, a class is also offered in Advanced Corporate Taxation.

Another topic of great importance is the tax on wealth transfers — estate and gift taxes. As unprecedented numbers of Americans approach senior citizenship, planning to pass one’s wealth to the next generation without burdensome gift and death taxes is a robust industry. The law school offers a full range of courses in this area. In addition to an expansive Wills and Trusts class, we offer an annual course in Estate and Gift Taxation. Students with greater interest take the Estate Planning Seminar, in which an experienced practitioner helps students apply the information gleaned from the previous courses in practice simulations. Every other year an Advanced Tax Seminar focuses exclusively on valuation of property for tax purposes—probably the hottest topic for today’s estate planners. A related course is Qualified Retirement Plans, devoted entirely to the laws affecting tax-advantaged retirement plans.

In keeping with the globalization of the economy, tax lawyers in the United States and around the world have grown increasingly interested in international taxation—as have the taxing authorities here and worldwide. The law school’s International Tax course examines both inbound and outbound transactions—that is, transactions involving non-U.S. citizens and firms doing business in this country as well as transactions by U.S. citizens and firms abroad.

State and Local Taxation, our latest addition to the curriculum, addresses issues of increasing importance. As advocates of a smaller federal government have increased their influence in our nation’s capital, state and local governments are being pressed to assume more duties and functions, and their hunger for revenue grows accordingly.

The tax laws also shape the organization and operation of nonprofit organizations. The Nonprofit Law Seminar includes both the tax and nontax aspects of representing these entities. Several business courses, such as the Advanced Business Seminar, help students focus on tax planning as part of a wide overview of the legal aspects of deal-making.

While these courses offer a vast storehouse of knowledge about the substance of the tax laws, the law school also recognizes that procedures can be crucial in tax matters. Thus, it offers Federal Tax Procedure, a course devoted entirely to this subject. The course includes coverage of refund claims, statutes of limitations, administrative appeals, choice of forum for tax litigation, tax court procedure, tax crimes, and collection matters. It supplements the many law school courses that teach students to solve problems by resolving disputes efficiently as well as fairly.

Students planning to specialize in tax controversy practice are also encouraged to take full advantage of the law school’s many curricular and cocurricular offerings on client counseling, negotiation, mediation, and other alternative dispute resolution.

Tax is a high-tech business

Tax law professors (and tax practitioners in the “real world”) are among the most enthusiastic denizens of the worldwide web. Indeed, there is a blog devoted entirely to tax doings, designed to meet the information needs of tax professors in law schools. It’s called TaxProf Blog, and it can be found here. It attracts lots of internet traffic each day — deservedly so.