Law schools offer graduate-level Juris Doctor (J.D.) and Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree programs that have coursework or specializations in taxation. While J.D. programs usually take three years and are suitable for those wanting to get licensed to work as an attorney, LL.M. programs can take as little as one year and are suitable for working legal professionals or those in other fields who want to gain an understanding of law. There are also combined J.D. and LL.M. programs available that enable students to take significant coursework in tax law while also meeting the requirements to take the bar exam and obtain licensure as an attorney.
Topics addressed within tax law courses are as follows:
- Domestic and international tax laws
- Connections between tax law and other fields of law
- Tax policies and how they affect the public
- Contemporary issues in tax law
- Responsibilities of tax lawyers
List of Courses
Corporate Tax Law
Topics in this course include mergers, payment of dividends to investors, liquidation and reorganizations of corporations. Corporate tax law courses discuss the option of corporations to declare themselves either C corporations or S corporations, and the tax consequences of each choice.
Income Tax Law
Students learn the nuances of federal income tax, particularly in terms of the legal ramifications of the tax. This course also discusses the Internal Revenue Code, which sets forth the federal tax statues that are utilized by tax law professionals. The income tax course is often taken early in tax law programs because it is a common prerequisite for other tax law classes.
Federal Tax Law
This course focuses on government audits and the process of appearing before the Internal Revenue Service and United States Tax Court. It covers all areas of federal tax law, from filing tax returns to settling cases to audit case strategies. While some schools offer a federal tax law curriculum based on past cases, other schools allow students to practice federal tax law in actual cases with real clients.
Partnership Tax Law
Students learn about the tax consequences of businesses that are classified as partnerships. The course begins by explaining the differences between partnerships and limited liability corporations, then proceeds to address the ways that partnerships can be initiated and dissolved. Students also learn the distribution of assets within a partnership. This course also includes information about mergers between two or more partnerships.
This course discusses the processes and procedures involved in planning an estate. It covers the tax implications of estate planning as well as non-tax aspects, such as interviewing clients, analyzing estates and working with clients to ensure that the estate satisfies all necessary parties. Such classes often utilize group work and case studies to show students how estate planning works in actual situations.