Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy UCLA Law

Tax Law Program Newsletter

Fall 2015

UCLA/NYU Conference Focuses on Thomas Piketty's "Capital in the 21st Century"

In October 2014, the Fourth Annual NYU/UCLA Tax Policy Symposium addressed French economist Thomas Piketty’s groundbreaking book Capital in the Twenty-First Century. The day-long event consisted of five panels of leading tax policy scholars who analyzed the book’s theories. Thomas Piketty attended and delivered responses to each of the papers presented. The panelists included UCLA Law Professors Eric Zolt, Kirk Stark and Jason Oh. The papers presented at the symposium were published in the Tax Law Review.

The NYU/UCLA Tax Policy Symposium is an annual conference focusing on tax policy issues from both a legal and economic perspective. The symposium is organized by members of both UCLA Law’s and NYU Law’s tax law faculty, who have created the premier forum for leading U.S. and international scholars and policymakers to analyze and discuss complex tax policy questions and options for reform. UCLA Law will host the Fifth Annual Tax Policy Symposium on Tax and Entrepreneurship on Friday, October 16, 2015.

Tax Law Program Provides Students with Unusually Rich Curricular Offerings

At UCLA School of Law, J.D. and LL.M. students have access to a rich and wide-ranging tax law curriculum, which includes courses, seminars and experiential learning opportunities that address the tax policy considerations of myriad legal, financial, business and organizational decisions. Just in the past year, the tax curriculum has expanded considerably to include some classes that are typically only offered by stand-alone tax LL.M. programs, if at all.  Some of the recent additions and unique offerings include Income Taxation of Entertainers, Athletes and Artists, which focuses on tax issues of particular interest to those who represent talent; Executive Compensation, which explores the regulation of executive compensation that has emerged on a number of fronts, including federal income tax law; Taxation of Property Transactions, which surveys several important areas related to the federal income taxation of property transactions; Taxation and Development, which examines how tax regimes can influence a country’s economic development; State and Local Taxation, which introduces students to the legal and policy issues relating to state and local taxation; and Nonprofit Law and Policy: Restatement Drafting, an intensive immersion experience in which students participate in drafting black letter, legal commentary and supporting notes for the American Law Institute’s (ALI) Restatement of the Law of Nonprofit Organizations. Students can serve as externs through a relationship with the Tax Law Project at Bet Tzedek, which offers free legal representation and advice on certain income tax disputes. Students can also participate in tax policy debates as part of the UCLA Tax Policy and Public Finance Colloquium. In addition, J.D. students may pursue the tax law track within the Business Law and Policy specialization and LL.M. students can take the LL.M. track for tax law specialists, which is open to both domestic and foreign students.

Tax Exemption Experts Discuss Critical Tax Developments for Nonprofits at Western Conference on Tax Exempt Organizations

UCLA School of Law and the Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy at UCLA School of Law partnered with Loyola Law School, Los Angeles as the sponsors of the 18th Annual Western Conference on Tax Exempt Organizations. The conference included scholars, lawyers, government officials, accountants and those who work in exempt organizations, and featured panels led by some of the country’s top tax law experts.

The conference addressed a wide variety of topics including the Affordable Care Act and how it affects nonprofit organizations, the rise of “hybrid” entities such as the benefit corporation, and the difference between “advising” and “earmarking” in various tax law contexts. Ruth Madrigal of the U.S. Department of the Treasury provided a review of the prior year and a look forward to the year ahead. During his lunch talk, former Chief of Staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, George K. Yin, provided a critique of the Form 1023-EZ.

The program featured an array of prominent tax-exemption experts, including Professor Ellen Aprill, the WCTEO founder and the John E. Anderson Chair in Tax Law at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. UCLA School of Law Professor Jill Horwitz co-convened the conference with Professor Aprill.  Professor Horwitz spoke on “The ACA’s Hospital Tax-Exemption Rules” at the event. Other panelists included officials from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the IRS, the California Attorney General’s office as well as a variety of prominent tax law practitioners.

Leading Tax Law Professionals Address Global Tax Issues at UCLA Law/Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center Event

On January 30, 2015, the Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy and the Washington, D.C.-based Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center hosted a conference on international tax reform, bringing together leading tax law professors, lawyers and other tax law professionals. The conference covered the threats to revenue posed by the recent upswing in corporate inversions, the potential impact of the OECD’s base erosion and profit shifting project, the question of whether to shift from a global to a territorial approach to taxing income earned abroad by U.S. companies, and the debate of whether international tax reform is politically feasible in today’s Congress. 

Panelists included leading economists Mihir Desai of Harvard Business School and Kimberly Clausing of Reed College; experienced lawyers including former Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary of Tax Policy, Jon Talisman of Capitol Tax Partners, and Lawrence Stein of Latham & Watkins; and prominent law professors like Dhammika Dharmapala of the University of Chicago and Victor Fleischer of the University of San Diego and The New York Times “Deal Book.”

Recent and Forthcoming UCLA Tax Faculty Scholarship and Activities

During the past year, UCLA School of Law’s distinguished tax faculty members have published a wide range of notable articles, books and commentary and participated in activities to advance tax law and policy. They are also sought after resources for news and commentaryPlease read more in the sample below. 

Steven A. Bank
Paul Hastings Professor of Business Law
Faculty Director, Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy

Professor Bank continues to serve as the faculty director of the Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy as well as the faculty advisor for UCLA Law’s Tax and Estate Planning Law Association. He is an organizer of the upcoming Fifth Annual NYU/UCLA Tax Policy Symposium, “Tax and Entrepreneurship,” where he will moderate a panel on how to use the tax system to encourage entrepreneurship.


Paying High for Low Performance,” (with George S. Georgiev), 100 Minnesota Law Review Headnotes (forthcoming, 2016).

Shareholder Protection Across Time,” (with Brian R. Cheffins and Harwell Wells), 68 Florida Law Review (forthcoming, 2016).

Jill Horwitz
Professor of Law

Professor Horwitz is co-reporter for the American Law Institute’s Restatement of the Law of Charitable Nonprofit Organizations and has recently been appointed to the Board of Advisors of the New York University National Center on Philanthropy and the Law.


Profits v. Purpose: Hybrid Companies and the Charitable Dollar,” (with Rachel Culley), in A Subtle Balance: Expertise, Evidence, and Democracy in Public Policy and Governance, 1970-2010 (Edward A. Parson, ed.). McGill-Queens University Press (2015).

Are PILOTs Property Taxes for Nonprofits?” (with Fan Fei and James Hines, Jr.), National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 21088 (April 2015).

The ACA’s Hospital Tax-Exemption Rules and the Practice of Medicine,” (with David Cutler), Health Affairs (March 3, 2015).

Cross Border Effects of State Health Technology Regulation,” (with Dan Polsky), 1 American Journal of Health Economics 101 (Winter 2015). Related work published as “Challenges to Regulatory Decentralization:  Lessons from Certificate of Need Regulation,” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 19801 (2014).

Jason Oh
Assistant Professor of Law

Professor Oh was invited to serve on the program committee for the National Tax Association’s 2015 annual meeting. He is responsible for coordinating the Political Economy portions of the conference. The panels will focus on issues of inequality, elections and policy uncertainty. The speakers include several of the most acclaimed scholars and policymakers in the field, including Emmanuel Saez (Berkeley), Ilyana Kuziemko (Princeton) and Alan Auerbach (Berkeley).


Quantifying Legislative Uncertainty: A Case Study in Tax Policy,” (with Christopher Tausanovitch), 69 Tax Law Review (forthcoming, 2016).

"Will Tax Reform Be Stable?," UCLA School of Law, Working Paper Series Law & Econ Paper No. 15-16 (2015).

“Diagnosing Gridlock: A Response to Professor Doran,” 67 Tax Law Review 627 (2014).

Kirk Stark
Barrall Family Professor of Tax Law and Policy

Professor Stark regularly testifies on state and local tax policy before the California state legislature. Most recently he advised lawmakers on the enactment of SB 798, legislation adopting a state income tax credit to help fund Cal Grants, the state’s principal source of financial aid for college students from low-income families.


“The Role of Expressive versus Instrumental Preferences in U.S. Attitudes toward Taxation and Redistribution,” in Philosophical Explorations of Justice and Taxation: National and Global Issues (Helmut P. Gaisbauer, Gottfried Schweiger and Clemens Sedmak, eds.) (2015).

State and Local Taxation (with Walter Hellerstein, John Swain and Joan Youngman). West (2014).

“The Operation of Tax Limitation Initiatives in the Face of Conflicting Voter Preferences for Tax and Spending Levels,” 67 Tax Law Review 543 (2014).

Review of Tax Fairness and Folk Justice by Steven M. Sheffrin, 67 National Tax Journal 487 (2014).

Eric Zolt
Michael H. Schill Distinguished Professor of Law

Professor Zolt continues his work on tax systems in developing countries. He was a part of a small group of experts retained by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs to review proposals from the OECD on the Base Erosion and Profits Shifting project from the developing countries’ perspective. The reports were published in July in United Nations Handbook on Selected Issues in Protecting the Tax Base in Developing Countries. He recently presented papers at conferences for tax officials from developing countries at the OECD, the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund. He also organized a United Nations “Workshop on Tax Incentives and Base Protection” and was the keynote speaker at a World Bank conference on “Tax Policy -- From Theory to Practice.” 


“Tax Incentives in Developing Countries: Protecting the Tax Base,” in United Nations Handbook on Tax Base Protection in Developing Countries, Financing for Development Office, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (United Nations, 2015).

Fiscal Contracting in Latin America,” (with Richard M. Bird), 67 World Development 323 (2015).

"Taxation and Inequality in Canada and the U.S.: Two Stories or One?" (with Richard M. Bird) 52 Osgoode Hall Law Journal 401 (2015).

"Inequality and Taxation," Fireside Chat at WU Global Tax Policy Center at the Institute for Austrian and International Tax Law (Vienna University of Economics and Business), Tax Notes International (June 29, 2015).


Politics and Taxation: An Introduction,” 67 Tax Law Review 453 (2014).

Distinguished Scholars Discuss Their Research at UCLA Colloquium on Tax Policy and Public Finance

Each spring, the Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy sponsors the UCLA Tax Policy and Public Finance Colloquium. Leading academics are invited to present cutting-edge research on tax policy and public finance. The colloquium provides the UCLA Law community with an opportunity to participate in serious academic debates concerning tax policy and to advance thoughtful research in this area.

To kick off the 2014-15 colloquium, Kenneth Scheve, professor of political science at Stanford University, presented “Taxing the Rich: Fairness and Fiscal Sacrifice Over Two Centuries.” Professor Scheve argued the greatest support for taxing the rich occurs when the taxation plan corrects for some other inequality in governmental action. For example, he said that support for heavily taxing the rich during World War II can in part be explained by the military draft. Professor Scheve and his co-author used historical and international data to support this “compensatory” theory of taxation.

In another thought-provoking presentation, Monica Singhal, associate professor of public policy at Harvard University, presented “Dodging the Taxman: Firm Misreporting and Limits to Tax Enforcement.” During the past several decades, information reporting has significantly improved tax enforcement. Using a set of data from Ecuador, Professor Singhal’s article demonstrates the limits of information reporting. She discussed the findings that firms in Ecuador responded to information reporting by simultaneously reporting more sales and more (hard-to-verify) expenses. The net increase in tax revenue from the information reporting regime was negligible. She talked about her conclusion that information reporting regimes must be backstopped by an effective audit process.

Other speakers included: Kathleen DeLaney Thomas, University of North Carolina Law School; Susan C. Morse, University of Texas Law School; Monica Prasad, Northwestern University; Theodore P. Seto, Loyola Law School; David Weisbach, University of Chicago Law School; and Stanley Winer, Carleton College. The series was organized by UCLA Law Professor Jason Oh and Lowell Milken Institute Fellow Alexander Wu.

Professors Eric Zolt and Jason Oh are co-organizing the colloquium this spring. The exciting lineup of presenters includes Louis Kaplow (Harvard), Joel Slemrod (Michigan), Michael Keen (World Bank) and Ajay Mehrotra (American Bar Foundation, Northwestern).

Tax Law Scholarships Awarded to Outstanding UCLA Law Tax Students

UCLA School of Law produces some of the nation’s best and brightest future lawyers – as evidenced by our outstanding students who receive law school awards and scholarships for excellence in and aptitude for the study of tax law.

This year, Yi Kuan (“Ivan”) Lu was awarded the 2015 Bruce I. Hochman Award for Excellence in the Study of Tax Law.  The award is presented annually to a graduating student who has demonstrated outstanding proficiency in the field. The recipient of the $15,000 award is selected by the UCLA School of Law tax faculty and is announced at the commencement ceremony each May. The award honors Bruce I. Hochman, a leading tax practitioner who was a member of the first UCLA School of Law graduating class of 1952. Recent prior recipients include Peter Boos ’14, an associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP in Los Angeles; Noah Benjamin Metz ’13, an associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP in Palo Alto, and Christopher Hanfling ’12, an associate at Jones Day in Washington, D.C.

Jordan David ’18 was selected to receive the Thomas A. Kirschbaum Scholarship. The Kirschbaum Scholarships are awarded to students who demonstrate an interest in and an aptitude for studying tax law. The scholarship helps to fund the recipients’ education and also introduces them to mentors in the Los Angeles legal community. Ryan McKay Hicks ’15, Alan Beadle ’16 and Avraham (“Ay”) Mernick ’17 are prior recipients.