Tax Practicum   [Archived Catalog]
2018-2019 School of Law Bulletin

LAWS 694 - Tax Practicum

Credits: 3

This seminar is an advanced course in tax law and policy.  The purpose of the course is to simulate the real world of tax practice and tax policymaking, helping students to understand how tax rules are made, interpreted, and applied by tax practitioners. Readings will include cases involving taxpayer challenges to tax rules and government challenges to taxpayer positions, and examples of "opinion letters" evaluating the U.S. federal income tax treatment of discrete transactions, examples of comment letters submitted to Treasury, and tax regulations with Treasury-produced explanatory preambles.

During the semester, students will work collaboratively to produce the sort of written product that they might be tasked with in tax practice, for example, an opinion letter describing and assessing the tax treatment of a certain transaction; an appeal of an IRS proposed adjustment to a tax position; a petition to Tax Court to challenge a deficiency found by the IRS; or a comment letter in response to a proposed regulation.  It is anticipated that the implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (i.e. the tax bill enacted at the end of 2017) will result in substantial uncertainty and back and forth between taxpayers (and their representatives) and the government, so the precise nature of the writing assignments and the substantive issues students address will vary semester to semester based on current challenges the tax practitioner community confronts and students' particular interests.  When possible, the curriculum will include guest visits from tax practitioners and/or IRS or Treasury personnel.

Each student will individually produce an outline of the writing project as well as a first draft of 12-15 pages, which may require a statement of facts, legal analysis, policy arguments and data.  Students will conduct an oral and visual presentation on their draft paper, and will be expected to review and critique each other's drafts and presentations.   Students will then collaborate in small groups (3-4 students per group) to draft a final product that is 30-35 pages long and that integrates the individual work into a cohesive whole.

Corequisites: Corporate Tax or Partnership Tax

Prerequisites: Income Tax and either Corporate Tax or Partnership Tax

Basis of Grade: Outline (10%), individual draft and in-class presentation (20%), foal group paper (40%), participation (30%)

Form of Grade: Letter