TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Chodorow:  Snape On Taxes

SnapeTaxProf Blog op-ed:  Snape on Taxes, by Adam Chodorow (Arizona State):

Every fall, as I prepare to teach again after a 3-month hiatus, I am reminded of a scene from the first Harry Potter book. The students, some bright-eyed, others fearful, file into Professor Snape’s dungeon classroom for their first Potions class. Glaring out at his students, he introduces them to the subject he loves, but which he fears they will barely comprehend. The passage reads as follows:

You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potion-making,” he began. He spoke in barely more than a whisper, but they caught every word – like Professor McGonagall, Snape had the gift of keeping a class silent without effort. “As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses…I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death – if you aren’t as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach.

What if Snape taught tax? Many of our students would likely equate the two subjects. Regardless, with apologies to J.K. Rowling, here’s what I imagine he would say:

You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of taxation,” he began. He spoke in barely more than a whisper, but they caught every word – like Professor McGonagall, Snape had the gift of keeping a class silent without effort. “As there is little foolish argument by anology here, many of you will hardly believe this is law. I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of a reverse triangular merger, the delicate power of sublime tax logic as it creeps through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses…I can teach you how to shelter income, invert corporations, even avoid taxes at death – if you aren’t as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach.

I’ve often fantasized about giving just such a speech on the first day of class, though perhaps without the bit about dunderheads. We are subject to student evaluations, after all. I’m not sure I’ve got the guts, but if any of you are brave enough, have at it. And let me know how it went.

See also Professor Maule as Professor Snape?

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/09/snape-on-taxes.html

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Comments

Well, I won't make the speech (perhaps another year .... I left my cape at home this morning), but I did send this to my students. Thanks for writing it. You made my day.

Posted by: Mary Pareja | Sep 1, 2016 7:08:25 AM