As one, lone law professor, I have little direct ability to reduce tuition costs for my students.
When writing this textbook, however, I decided to decline expressions of interest from the legacy
legal publishers in favor of making this textbook available as a free download over the internet (in
ePub format for iPads, Mobi format for Kindles, and pdf and Word format for laptops).
Fortunately, eLangdell (a division of CALI, the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction)
has been an ideal partner in this regard. Because this textbook is published under a Creative
Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, law schools can make
at-cost softbound copies for students (and teachers) who prefer the printed page.
In addition to eliminating (or lowering) student cost, this mode of publication permits me to
quickly and fully update the book each December, incorporating expiring provisions, inflation
adjustments for the coming calendar year, new Treasury Regulations, etc., in time for use in the
spring semester, an approach that avoids cumbersome annual supplements. This publication
method also makes the textbook suitable for use as a free study aid for students whose professors
adopt another textbook, as this textbook walks the student through the law with many more fact
patterns and examples than do many other textbooks. While this practice adds length, I believe
that it also makes the book more helpful to students in confronting what can be daunting material.
Finally, having the textbook easily accessible to foreign students enrolled in a course examining
the U.S. Federal income taxation of individuals is important to me, and having the textbook
available as a free internet download succeeds well in that regard.
A Teacher’s Manual is available for professors who adopt the book (or parts of it) for use in
This textbook is not intended to be an exhaustive treatise; rather, it is intended to be far more
useful than that for beginning tax law students by equipping the novice not merely with unmoored
detail but rather with a rich blueprint that illuminates the deeper structural framework on which
that detail hangs (sometimes crookedly). Chapter 1 outlines the conceptual meaning of the term
“income” for uniquely tax purposes (as opposed to financial accounting or trust law purposes, for
example) and examines the Internal Revenue Code provisions that translate this larger conceptual
construct into positive law. Chapter 2 explores various forms of consumption taxation because the
modern Internal Revenue Code is best perceived as a hybrid income-consumption tax that also
contains many provisions—for wise or unwise nontax policy reasons—that are inconsistent with
both forms of taxation. Chapter 3 then provides students with the story of how we got to where we
are today, important context about the distribution of the tax burden, the budget, and economic
trends, as well as material on ethical debates, economic theories, and politics as they affect
Armed with this larger blueprint, students are then in a much better position to see how the
myriad pieces that follow throughout the remaining 19 chapters fit into this bigger picture, whether
comfortably or uncomfortably. For example, they are in a better position to appreciate how
applying the income tax rules for debt to a debt-financed investment afforded more favorable
consumption tax treatment creates tax arbitrage problems. Congress and the courts then must
combat these tax shelter opportunities with both statutory and common law weapons. Stated
another way, students are in a better position to appreciate how the tax system can sometimes be
used to generate (or combat) unfair and economically inefficient rent-seeking behavior.