Saturday, April 14, 2007
Vada Waters Lindsey (Marquette)
- B.A. 1983, Michigan State
- J.D. 1988, DePaul
- LL.M. (Tax) 1992, Georgetown
I went to law school to become a lobbyist. I majored in Political Science at Michigan State University and worked as a legislative aide for a Michigan State Senator prior to attending law school. I loved the political environment, but I quickly realized that I could not advance in my career without additional education. I felt confident that a law degree would enable me to strengthen my persuasive and analytical abilities and enhance my likelihood of success as a lobbyist.
My plans were derailed when I took my first tax class at DePaul University College of Law. I happened to take my first tax class during 1986 – the year of the infamous Tax Reform Act of 1986. How could I avoid falling in love with the tax system when my first real exposure to tax law occurred shortly after one of the most important tax acts in this country’s history? I was hooked and developed a lifelong passion of tax law. After my epiphany, I took every possible tax class at DePaul and served as a research assistant for two years helping a tax professor research the tax law.
It did not take me long to realize that not only did I want to become a tax attorney, but I also wanted to become a tax professor. Unlike many students, I loved the law school environment. I had the foresight to realize that being a law professor was one of the best jobs in this profession. Prior to entering the Academy, I worked at the Chief Counsel’s Office at the IRS. Although I had a four-year commitment to work as a trial attorney at the IRS, I left after two years to serve as an Attorney Advisor for Judge Joel Gerber at the United States Tax Court. I loved clerking for Judge Gerber and interacting with other law clerks and judges. I also earned my Tax LL.M. in from Georgetown after taking classes during the evenings. Upon the completion of my clerkship and LL.M, I worked for a few years as in-house tax attorney for a fortune 500 corporation.
I have been a law professor at Marquette since 1996. I teach Federal Income Taxation, Federal Taxation of Gifts, Trusts and Estates, Tax Policy, Real Estate Finance and Development and Property Law. Hence, my concentration is in the areas of tax and real estate laws. While my Real Estate Finance and Development course covers essentials such as mortgages and foreclosure, I devote approximately 30% of the course to relevant tax issues.
Three years ago, I started a VITA program at Marquette. Several of my students volunteer during the spring semester to electronically complete tax returns for low income and elderly taxpayers. In addition, the Marquette site is the only local site that completes tax returns for nonresident aliens. As I have learned, these returns are substantially different from the regular Form 1040’s and require an understanding of tax treaties. I am very proud to provide this service because I believe that pro bono service is important and it is a great opportunity for my students to gain some practical experience.
In my scholarship, I primarily focus on the effect of the Internal Revenue Code on lower to middle income taxpayers. My articles have addressed progressive taxation, charitable deductions and the taxation of self-help programs. I will continue to write articles regarding the impact of the Code on lower to middle income taxpayer, but I also write articles on other interesting tax issues. For example, I served as an associate editor of a symposium volume of the Marquette Law Review exploring state tax issues and wrote a piece for the volume pertaining to whether the tax incentives should be used to promote education at the primary and secondary levels and whether tax incentives should be used to encourage businesses to locate to and remain in Wisconsin. I also wrote an article pertaining to the need for proper tax planning for retirement which was recently highlighted on TaxProf Blog. Too bad I did not spot the typo in the conclusion until it appeared on the blog! My latest article addresses the use of legislative history in deciding tax cases.
Now that I have reflected on my career, I realize in many ways, I have become a pseudo lobbyist in my role as a law professor by explaining the laws to my students and writing articles on issues of interest. I absolutely love being a law professor and have never regretted my decision to enter academia.
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.