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Saturday, December 11, 2004

Spotlight_1The UCLA School of Law made one of the largest leaps in the latest US News survey of tax programs, moving from #25 in 2002 to #6 in 2004. In large part, this move was fueled by the unprecedented hiring of three tax professors in 2003, joining the four tax professors already on the faculty to form one of the strongest tax faculties in the country. 

       

Ucla_seal_1The resurgence of UCLA’s tax program is evident in its many activities planned for this year, including its Tax Policy and Public Finance Colloquium this Spring, the UCLA Law Review's Symposium on Rethinking Redistribution: Tax Policy in an Era of Rising Inequality in January, UCLA’s Institute on Tax Aspects of Mergers and Acquisitions in May, and the hosting of a Conference on Historical Perspectives on Tax Law & Policy in July. Moreover, because of the combination of an expanded tax faculty and substantial student interest, the UCLA Program in Business Law and Policy will offer a separate tax track in its business law concentration starting next year.

In a seven-part series, TaxProf Blog will spotlight the tax professors who make up the heart of UCLA’s tax program.

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Steven Bank first came to the UCLA School of Law as a visiting professor in 2002 and joined the faculty permanently as a full professor the following year. According to Steve, “it was an easy decision to come for a visit and an even easier decision to stay once it became clear how committed the school was to tax. I don’t know that there was ever any deliberate attempt to build a tax program at UCLA,” he explained, “but the faculty had the foresight to take advantage of an opportunity to do so and the result has been fantastic.” In the past several years, Steve has taught Federal Income Taxation, Taxation of Business Enterprises, Corporate Tax Policy, and Tax Aspects of Mergers and Acquisitions. In addition, Steve is a co-organizer of the UCLA Tax Policy and Public Finance Colloquium this spring and is teaching an undergraduate course on the origins of the federal income tax. Recently, in a move that either highlights the centrality of tax at UCLA or Steve’s inability to duck as quickly as his colleagues, he was named the first faculty director of the UCLA Program in Business Law and Policy, an umbrella program designed to highlight and create synergies between the school’s strengths in tax, corporate, and bankruptcy.

Steve has published numerous articles in corporate taxation, particularly in tax-free reorganizations and the taxation of dividends, but his signature throughout has been the use of historical methodology. “I started out with the typical historical training,” Steve noted, “and I continued to pursue that in law school where I had a fellowship in constitutional history. I took the full complement of tax courses as well, but I never thought of combining the two areas of interest until I started writing about the historical precedent for the flat tax campaign of the mid-1990s during my clerkship. My interest in business tax history was subsequently kindled after several years of corporate tax practice spent working with a system that appeared to me to be so obviously and significantly forged in the crises of the 1930s. Of course, once I decided to enter academics it didn’t hurt that this scholarly niche was in relatively unoccupied terrain.” Steve has helped to develop this terrain ever since and, to his surprise, he has found others who share his interest in tax history. He and his colleague Kirk Stark are editing the Business Tax Stories book for Foundation Press and Steve is one of the principal organizers of UCLA’s conference on Historical Perspectives on Tax Law and Policy this summer. He is currently working on a book manuscript tentatively entitled From Sword to Shield: The Transformation of the Corporate Income Tax, 1861-2003.

Steve and his wife have two sons, ages 7 and 4. When Steve isn’t chasing them around, he plays soccer and goes on the occasional hike in the Santa Monica mountain range or more exotic locales.

For prior UCLA tax faculty profiles, see:

Each Saturday, TaxProf Blog shines the spotlight on one of the 700+ tax professors in America's law schools. We hope to help bring the many individual stories of scholarly achievements, teaching innovations, public service, and career moves within the tax professorate to the attention of the broader tax community. Please email me suggestions for future Tax Prof Profiles. For prior Tax Prof Profiles, see here.

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