Bogdanski writes latest edition of best-selling tax treatise
Drop by Professor Jack Bogdanski’s office these days, and he’ll show you what’s new. On a shelf just above his desk are the latest school photos of his two daughters. Over near the window is an orchid that an international student just gave him as a thank-you for help with a tax issue. And on a library table next to his computer sits the fifth edition of a best-selling treatise, Federal Income Taxation of S Corporations.
As he’ll show you with pride, Bogdanski’s name is on the cover, along with co-authors Joel D. Kuntz, retired general counsel of Entek Manufacturing Inc., and the late Professor James S. Eustice of NYU Law School. Work on the new edition spanned more than two years and was released earlier this year.
“It’s been an amazing experience,” Bogdanski recounts. “Not everyone is entrusted with keeping a major book like this alive. It was groundbreaking when it came out, and it’s been the leading authority in the area for over 40 years. When Joel called me and asked for my help, I jumped at the chance.” Fortunately for Bogdanski, he was able to use a “whole band of research assistants” to help as the task was a complex one.
An S corporation, named after Subchapter S of the tax code, is one of the most popular forms of conducting a closely held business in the United States. At last count, there were more than 4.6 million S corporations in the country. Like partnerships, S corporations typically do not pay tax, but rather, the results of their operations are immediately reflected on the tax returns of their owners.
Bogdanski was revising the S corporation volume while also updating another book on valuation of property for federal tax purposes. Keeping up the two proved so challenging that Bogdanski retired from a hobby he dabbled in for more than a decade - political blogging on the website bojack.org. “I loved the political punditry,” he recalls. “My readers and I had a lot of fun with it, and I think we even influenced the outcomes of a few events. But you know, there are only so many hours in the day. In the end, when I was faced with a choice, the tax law won out.”
Bogdanski says the most rewarding aspect of the undertaking was working closely with Kuntz. The two men have seen many changes in the decades during which they have been producing tax scholarship. The most striking is that the vast majority of those using the treatises nowadays access them on computer screens. “The publisher tells us that about 80 percent of the readership is electronic,” Bogdanski remarked. “And so we’re working hard to be useful to that sort of reader, while still serving old-fashioned folks like ourselves who are willing to lug the big books around.” Big the new volume is, weighing in at just shy of 1,700 pages of text and about seven pounds. “The electronic subscribers have a much lower risk of physical injury,” he said.
The release of the new treatise doesn’t necessarily mean a more relaxed schedule for Bogdanski. “Some pressure has definitely been released,” he explained, “but the books require five updates a year between the two of them. So suffice it to say I’ll still have my nose in the Internal Revenue Code. As deep as ever.”
Bogdanski is the inaugural Douglas K. Newell Faculty Scholar, an endowed position established in 2009 by alumnus Mark Tratos ’79 (chair of the Law School board of visitors and a Lewis & Clark College trustee) and his wife, Sandra. Endowed faculty positions assist faculty in funding research, including hiring student research assistants. “I like to think of the Tratoses as my Shakespearean patrons,” says Bogdanski. “I’m very grateful.”