Tax time: Cooley Law professor publishes tax guide

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 By Steve Thorpe

Legal News
 
Taxpayers aren’t the only ones occasionally scratching their heads over the rules and regulations of the Internal Revenue Service. Attorneys occasionally need expert information on the intricacies of tax law.
 
Joni Larson, Thomas M. Cooley Law School professor and assistant director of the school’s Graduate Tax Program, recently published a book that has become an important training resource and guide for attorneys in proceedings before the Tax Court.
 
“A Practitioner’s Guide to Tax Evidence: A Primer on the Federal Rules of Evidence as Applied by the Tax Court” is published by the American Bar Association Section on Taxation.
 
“When I was an IRS litigator, it became apparent to me that there wasn’t anything out there that talked about how the rules of evidence are applied in the Tax Court,” she said. “I decided that there needed to be some way to look at what the Tax Court had done in the past to help to try to figure out what they were going to do in the future. I was surprised that there wasn’t anything out there.” 
 
Larson earned her J.D. from the University of Montana and an LL.M. in Taxation from the University of Florida. She clerked for the Judge Irene Scott of the United States Tax Court, and then joined the Office of Chief Counsel as a tax litigator in the Austin, Texas, District Counsel Office. She then entered private practice, but eventually returned to government work. After spending several years with the Field Service Division of the National Office, she then worked in the Small Business/Self-Employed Division. She now teaches individual taxation, business organizations, partnership taxation, and federal tax research at Cooley and is assistant director of the Graduate Tax Program.
 
Her original article eventually exceeded 200 pages with 1,300 footnotes and Larson finally decided to make it into a book.
 
“Fifteen years ago, I started doing some research and putting together the cases that talked about the rules of evidence,” Larson said. “I then did the original article and it’s been updated many times, eventually becoming too unwieldy to continue in that form.”
 
The book is useful to attorneys working for either the IRS or taxpayers.
 
“It’s something both sides could use,” Larson said. “The way I structured it was to look at every single case that cited a rule. Sometimes it was in favor of the taxpayer and sometimes it was in favor of the government. When the article was originally published, someone commented that a lot of the rulings are against the government. Some claimed I wasn’t being fair in my treatment of the cases. But that’s just how it came out.”
 
It examines the Federal Rules of Evidence as applied by the Tax Court and can help attorneys on evidentiary issues by providing a summary of cases interpreting each rule. In addition, the book includes practical pointers designed to assist the tax litigator.
 
It also provides a guide to the Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE) as applied by the Tax Court using an easy-to-read collection of cases to support a practitioner facing an evidentiary problem in a Tax Court  case. 
 
The book has been well received in the field and has garnered favorable reviews.
 
T. Keith Fogg, professor of law and director of the Federal Tax Clinic at Villanova Law School, said in his review: “Those practicing in the Tax Court owe a debt of gratitude to Professor Larson for her work to assist in preparing for trial.”
 
Paul L. Caron, editor of the TaxProf blog at Pepperdine University School of Law, said: “A must-read for anyone preparing for trial before the U.S. Tax Court. The condensed and well-organized sections allow one to easily spot a particular issue or the Evidentiary Rule at hand and to find the supporting cases, and the case discussions have sufficient detail to allow the reader to know whether to go and read the full case.”

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