Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Mark J. Cowan (Boise State) & Joshua Cutler (Boise State), Cross-Fertilizing the Tax Classroom, 19 U. Pitt. Tax Rev. ___ (2022):
Taxation, embedded in both the legal and accounting professions, is taught in law schools and business schools. Courses in the former develop the skills of future tax attorneys, who will engage in tax structuring, document drafting, and litigation. Courses in the latter develop the skills of future CPAs, who will engage in tax compliance. But both lawyers and CPAs do tax research, tax planning, and represent clients on audit. The skills both professionals need and the content they are taught in both schools overlap to a great extent. (Indeed, masters of taxation courses in accounting programs often use law school casebooks.) Because of the overlap, there is much that teachers in both schools can learn from one another. In this contribution, we examine ways that tax accounting teaching approaches can be used in the law school classroom and vice versa.
For example, future tax lawyers could benefit from more exposure to the compliance issues that are taught in business schools—not to convert them into tax preparers, but to help them better engage in tax planning or litigation. Likewise, future CPAs could benefit from more development of the critical thinking skills that are emphasized in law schools—to help avoid myopia and better serve clients.
The authors are uniquely positioned to comment on the benefits of law school-business school cross-fertilization in teaching tax law. We’ve both been tax students in business and law schools and we both teach graduate-level taxation courses to accounting and law students.