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Saturday, January 15, 2005

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.

ZoltEric Zolt joined the UCLA tax faculty in 1985.  Before joining UCLA, he was a partner in the Chicago law firm of Kirkland & Ellis, where he specialized in individual and corporate tax matters.  Before practicing law, Eric was on the research staff of the Center for Policy Alternatives, MIT.

Eric teaches Introduction to Federal Income Taxation, Taxation of Corporations & Shareholders, Taxation of International Transactions, Elements of Economic Organization (jointly offered with UCLA’s business school), and seminars on Taxation and Development, Comparative Tax Policy, and Transition to Market Economy. Students come into his basic tax class expecting to be bored, frightened, and confused. Eric does not disappoint them.

A successful teacher, Eric received the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award in just his fourth year of teaching.  He has also received the Law School’s Rutter Award for Excellence in Teaching (1997).  Eric has been twice been elected by the graduating class as Professor of the Year, a feat that, unfortunately, his tax colleague Kirk Stark will soon surpass.

While on leave from UCLA, he served in the U.S. Department of the Treasury from 1989 through 1992.  Eric served first as Deputy Tax Legislative Counsel in the Office of Tax Policy. He was a co-director of Treasury’s Report on the Integration of Individual and Corporate Tax Systems: Taxing Business Income Once (1992).  Given the decrease in corporate tax revenues and the increase in corporate tax shelter activity, he now realizes that taxing business income even once may be too ambitious.

In 1991, Eric founded and served as the Director of Treasury’s Tax Advisory Program for Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union.  Based at the U.S. Mission to the OECD in Paris, this program provided technical assistance to countries reforming their tax systems to be more compatible with a market economy.  Eric later found out that Paris was not in Eastern Europe.

Eric continues to serve as a consultant to the Treasury Department, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.  In the last 15 years, he has provided tax policy advice in over 25 countries.

In 2002, Eric co-founded and served as the first Chair of the Executive Committee of the Southern African Tax Institute, a joint venture of four South African universities, administratively located at the University of Pretoria.  In its first three years of operations, SATI has provided training to over 300 government tax officials from 20 different African countries.

To escape the weather in Los Angeles, Eric visits at other law schools.  Eric has (or will be) a visiting professor at Yale Law School (Fall 1997, Fall 1999, and Fall 2005), where he was the Jacquin D. Bierman Visiting Professor of Taxation, and at Harvard Law School (Fall 2000 through Fall 2002), where he was the John Harvey Gregory Lecturer on World Organizations. Eric also served as the Director of Harvard Law School’s International Tax Program from June 2000 through June 2003.

He is currently working with economic historian Kenneth Sokoloff (UCLA Department of Economics) on a project, Inequality and the Evolution of Tax Institutions: Evidence from the Americas. He is also working with economist Richard Bird (U. of Toronto) on a paper titled Redistribution via Taxation: A New Perspective for Developing Countries.

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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