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Taxes: No Longer Just for Accountants

published April 02, 2007

Heather Jung
( 43 votes, average: 4.9 out of 5)
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The American Bar Association's Section of Taxation's main mission is "to serve our members and the public through education and leadership to achieve an equitable, efficient, and workable tax system." To accomplish said mission, the ABA has set forth several specific goals:
  • To serve as the national representative of the legal profession with regard to the tax system
  • To improve public understanding of, confidence in, and respect for the tax system
  • To provide leadership in simplifying and improving the tax system
  • To provide unbiased, thoughtful, and timely input into the legislative and administrative process
  • To promote and maintain an active, vigorous, growing, and interested Section membership
  • To provide programs and services of unique quality which promote professionalism, competence, and ethical conduct
  • To provide a national forum for communication among Section members and interchange with the public sector
Law schools across the country offer programs to students interested in specializing in tax law. Tax law courses provide instruction on taxation, estate planning, business tax, international tax, and wills and trusts. Every year, U.S. News & World Report releases a list of the top tax law programs. In 2006, the top three programs were at New York University, University of Florida, and Georgetown University.

New York University School of Law

NYU's tax program has remained in the top spot since 1992. The school offers students several means of studying tax law: a graduate tax program, an international tax program, a joint-degree program (J.D./LL.M. in Taxation), a tax policy fellowship program, and advanced professional certificate programs in taxation.

The most respected and oldest graduate tax law program in the country, NYU's Master of Law (LL.M.) in Taxation program, is open to lawyers trained in American or foreign institutions. The program offers five areas of concentration: business taxation, estate planning, general taxation, international taxation, and tax policy.

Students interested in pursuing the LL.M. in Taxation at New York University School of Law can enroll full-time or part-time. Both tracks require 24 credits to graduate, 20 of which must be graduate tax courses such as Timing Issues and the Income Tax, European Community Tax Law, Estate Planning, and Tax-Exempt Organizations.

The international tax program is designed for foreign attorneys who, according to the tax program brochure, wish "to study international taxation in a global context." Participants must complete 24 credits over the course of two semesters in order to graduate, 15 of which must be obtained through required courses and nine of which must be obtained through elective courses.

Students must take Corporate Tax for International Tax Program Students, International Business Transactions, International Tax I and II, and Tax Treaties. For the remaining three required credits, students can choose from International Tax Policy, Tax Policy: Comparative, and Tax Policy: European Union.

Through the school's joint-degree program, J.D. candidates can earn their J.D.s and their LL.M.s in Taxation by completing seven semesters of full-time study. The program is open to NYU students who are in good standing and who have taken Income Taxation, as well as a limited number of candidates from other schools who have completed two full years of study and need no more than 30 additional credits to complete requirements for J.D.s at their current law schools. Students are advised to take 12 units of advanced tax courses prior to enrolling in the program so that they only have to take 12 more during their actual courses of study in the program.

The tax policy fellowship program is an internship program coordinated with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury (Tax Policy) and the Staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation. It allows two students from the J.D./LL.M. program to spend six months following graduation working on one of the two policy staffs in Washington, DC.

Interested in these kinds of jobs? Click here to find Tax jobs.

NYU School of Law also offers an advanced certificate program in taxation. Candidates must have J.D. or LL.B. degrees from schools approved by the Section on Legal Education of the American Bar Association or its foreign equivalent. Participants can complete the program in one year of part-time study. There are three certificate programs available: Corporate Taxation, Estate Planning, and International Taxation.

"As an NYU student, you will have the opportunity to choose from advanced courses in general business taxation, international taxation, estate planning, and tax policy. Because our world-renowned faculty integrates the teaching of theory and policy into the Tax Program, our students graduate with a superior ability to understand tax legislation and the underpinnings of complex tax transactions," Noël B. Cunningham, Director of the Graduate Tax Program, says in the program's brochure.

University of Florida Levin College of Law

University of Florida Levin College of Law's second-ranked taxation program offers three degrees in taxation: an LL.M. in Taxation, an LL.M. in International Taxation, and an S.J.D. in Taxation.

Created 30 years ago, the graduate tax program at Levin College of Law has helped countless students prepare for careers in tax law. The program is designed for full-time students and can be completed in one year (two semesters and a summer program).

According to the program brochure, students typically enroll in four or five graduate tax courses during the fall and spring terms and one or two courses in the summer. The program offers students three concentrations from which to choose: estate planning, international taxation, and corporate/business taxation.

Students are awarded LL.M.s in International Taxation when they have completed 26 credit hours, 13 of which must be for international tax courses such as U.S. International Tax I and II, Comparative Taxation, and Tax Treaties. Like the LL.M. in Taxation program, the international taxation program is designed to be completed in two semesters and a summer program. Enrollment is limited to 25 students per year and is open to both U.S. and international students.

Levin College of Law is proud to be the only school to offer a Doctor of Judicial Science (S.J.D.) in Taxation. The program, which consists predominantly of research and writing, is designed for students who are interested in teaching tax law and generally takes three to five years to complete. It includes the same courses required for the LL.M. in Taxation as well as eight credits obtained by attending writing and research seminars. To receive the degree, a student must complete a thesis, "which may consist of a single monograph or a series of at least three major articles."

The Florida Tax Review is one of the most respected tax journals in the country. The review publishes articles dealing with significant tax law issues and policies. Its articles focus on a wide range of tax topics, such as tax expatriation, the alternative minimum tax, and the latest developments in income taxation.

Also available to tax law students at the University of Florida are the Florida Graduate Tax Lecture Series, the Richard B. Stephens Tax Research Center, the Leiden Exchange Program, and a highly successful career services office.

Georgetown University Law Center

Number three on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best tax law programs is Georgetown University Law Center's taxation program. J.D. students can take several classes that concentrate on taxation. An LL.M. in Taxation is also available.

Students who are pursuing J.D. degrees and are interested in the field of tax law can choose from a list of more than 10 classes dealing with the subject. In addition to the two basic taxation classes (Taxation I and II), other classes available include: Advanced Corporate Taxation: Theory and Practice, Entrepreneurship, Estate and Gift Taxation, Fiduciaries: Myths and Realities, and Taxation of Partnerships. Students can also attend seminars on tax policy, estate planning, business planning, and Social Security reform.

According to the school's website, "Georgetown's Tax LL.M. program offers a unique combination of expert adjunct faculty and full-time tax faculty, one of the most extensive tax curricula taught anywhere, and the opportunity to experience Washington, DC, the nation's center of tax policymaking, rulemaking, and publishing."

Courses available to J.D. students are open to LL.M. students as well, once the needs of students in the J.D. program have been accommodated. Classes specifically for the LL.M. program include EU Tax Law, Financial Derivatives Taxation, Income Tax Accounting, and Transfer Pricing.

Georgetown University Law Center works in conjunction with the Section of Taxation of the ABA to produce The Tax Lawyer, a journal featuring scholarly articles as well as notes and comments from students pertaining to topics of interest to members of the Section of Taxation and other readers. The journal is published five or six times per year, which includes the publication of one issue entitled The State and Local Tax Lawyer.

NYU, University of Florida, and Georgetown University are not the only schools that offer programs in taxation. For more information, check out the ABA Section of Taxation website at

Interested in these kinds of jobs? Click here to find Tax jobs.

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