Why Tax Law Should Be Required Of All Law Students

by Linda Beale
crossposted from Ataxingmatter

We tax profs have a tendency to tell our colleagues that tax law should be a mandatory topic for all law students because there’s nothing that you do that has economic consequences for which tax law isn’t relevant.  Whether you are marrying or divorcing, having a baby or buying a home, there are tax considerations that you should know about. 

If you are starting a business, depositing the proceeds of a theft in a bank, embezzling or gambling, there are tax considerations that you should know about.  If you are filing a tort action, there are tax ramifications.  If you own property, there are tax consequences.  If you work and earn a salary, there are tax consequences.  If you find a diamond in the street and keep it, there are tax considerations.  If  you get an “extreme makeover” home, there are tax consequences. 

If your home is rented by tourists in town to see the Master’s Golf tourney, the tax consequences will vary tremendously if the tenants are there for only 10 days versus if they are there for three weeks, even if you live in the house every other day of the year.  And on and on.

Ted Seto, a tax prof at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, noted another interesting fact about tax law that relates to this claim.  He notes that many of the important laws in other fields that we tend to think of as just a part of the common law had their origins in–you guessed it–tax law.  The following is quoted with his permission:

The Rule in Shelley’s Case was an anti-tax-avoidance rule. So was the Doctrine of Worthier Title. So was quia emptores terrarum, the statute that, by accident, created modern Anglo-American property in the first place. And the Magna Carta, which created the beginnings of Anglo-American democracy, was a tax cap agreement (sort of like Prop 13). It’s all tax, all the way down.

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