Paul L. Caron

Monday, November 29, 2004

Kingson Delivers Donahue Lecture at Suffolk on How Tax Thinks

SuffolkCharles Kingson (Ernst & Young; Columbia Adjunct) delivered the Donahue Lecture at Suffolk, How Tax Thinks, published at 37 Suffolk U. L. Rev. 1031 (2004). Here is part of the Introduction:

Tax thinking boils a transaction down not to labels but to who gets what why, and it forces you to examine where and how it says that. The clarity of former tax lawyers like Robert H. Jackson, Harry Blackmun, and Sumner Redstone shows that -- far from being a bunch of crazies speaking in tongues -- tax law represents just the opposite. Much of tax practice consists of trying to find logical definitions of ordinary English words (such as "sale" and "ownership"); and tax tries to root those definitions in the concerns of actual transactions.

Making definitions by connecting elements lies at the heart of tax thinking, and a delight in recognizing connections often indicates a burgeoning tax lawyer. [o test this theory, I used to give summer associates a bogus tax aptitude test  The idea of the test was that if they liked seeing the test's connections -- whether or not they got the answer -- they might like tax law. Let me try two:

1. What do Baa Baa Black Sheep, the alphabet, and Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star have in common? Well, hum one of them. When you hum one, you hum all three; because they all have the same tune.

2. Sarah Barney Belcher of Taunton, Massachusetts, was the ancestor of which of the following?

  • Douglas MacArthur
  • Franklin Roosevelt
  • Winston Churchill
  • The answer is, all three.

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    From a lecture titled "How Tax Thinks" (as repeated in the TaxProf Blog) Tax thinking boils a transaction down not... [Read More]

    Tracked on Nov 30, 2004 6:29:53 AM