Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tax Stimulus, Law School Edition

Robert G. Nassau (Syracuse):

This is not a terribly novel idea, but wouldn’t NOW be a great time for the IRS to hire 2,500 of our law school graduates and put them to work auditing people and corporations? This would create 2,500 well-paying jobs that more than paid for themselves.

Update: Jim Maule (Villanova), So Are Law Grads Ready to Be Tax Auditors?:

The point isn’t that law schools should teach students to become tax auditors. People don’t need to go to law school to become tax auditors. Law schools should not be teaching people to be tax auditors or rocket scientists. Nor should law graduates be funneled into tax auditing simply because they need jobs. They should be funneled into legal jobs in which their skills are required, and in order to maximize the number of legal jobs in which their skills are required, they need to leave law school with more skills than they currently do.

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Actually they already hire a good amount of law graduates. My husband was part of the recent huge hire by the IRS and was told that half of the applicants where law grads. And in his training, a significant number were law grads.

Posted by: Rebecca | Feb 19, 2010 4:51:28 PM

To asdfsa: Lighten up. I'm sure he's thinking that the IRS should change the way it works. There is presumably a lot of tax due that the IRS doesn't collect, both because it is short of good field agents and because its current field agents don't fully understand a lot of what they are seeing, especially in the files of well-advised taxpayers who have done complicated tax planning. Law grads who can't find jobs would rather be employed with a non-law salary than not employed at all. And their legal education would certainly make them better candidates to deal effectively with audits of well-advised taxpayers. It doesn't strike me as a bad idea at all.

Posted by: Jefferson VanderWolk | Feb 16, 2010 10:23:37 PM

Just make sure you have 60 votes in support first!

Posted by: mike livingston | Feb 16, 2010 5:22:51 PM

It's a little scary that Nassau runs a low income tax payer clinic but still doesn't understand how the IRS works.

Posted by: asdfsa | Feb 16, 2010 3:05:46 PM

To Bma: I doubt Chief Counsel needs 2,500 attorneys, even with the size of the regulations backlog and the number of cases being litigated. Who would train them? Perhaps there are 300 law grads ready to walk into Chief Counsel with the requisite experience (tax clinics, summer tax work) and course load.

Posted by: Jim Maule | Feb 16, 2010 2:44:44 PM

It would be cheaper to hire 2,500 high school or college graduates to do the same thing, because in any event the new hires would need to be trained so that they learned how to audit people and corporations. I doubt very much that even 25 graduates are produced by America's law schools with the ability to step in and do that sort of auditing. And the high school and college graduates (where the IRS gets many of its audit hires) require lower salaries on the GS scale.

Posted by: Jim Maule | Feb 16, 2010 2:42:43 PM

Hire lawyers to do audits? Sorta like using a screw driver to pound nails.

(Reminds me of the depo I did years ago with a trial lawyer who did not know that "revenue" and "income" were different and who swore "opportunity costs" did not exist in either accounting or economics.)

There are too many laws school and the real solution is becoming very clear.

Posted by: save_the_rustbelt | Feb 16, 2010 1:14:49 PM

Hire them as revenue agents? That is a position that hardly requires a bachelor's degree in accounting. Sure, it's a job, but not one that requires a law degree...If the good professor means create attorney jobs (requiring Bar admission) in Chief Counsel, they would not be "auditing people and corporations." I'm confused....

Posted by: Bma | Feb 16, 2010 12:00:40 PM