Tax Law Program

Harvard Law School offers a significant array of courses, seminars, and reading groups in U.S. tax law, all of which are open to students in both the J.D. and LL.M. programs. Law students are often surprised to learn that virtually every financial, business, and organizational decision in modern American life has important tax consequences. The tax courses at HLS explore these consequences by focusing on the applicable legislation, the underlying tax policy considerations, and alternative approaches.

The foundational course is Taxation, which is one of the Law School's recommended courses for J.D. students. The advanced tax courses are designed not only for J.D. and LL.M. students who find tax issues intriguing, but also for those who are more interested in the relevant non-tax substantive areas, which are myriad. For example, corporate lawyers working on mergers and acquisitions need to understand the tax consequences of such transactions, which are often structured in response to the tax code. Family lawyers need to understand the tax consequences of marriage, divorce, and the transfer of property. Less obviously, federal regulation of universities, hospitals, charities, and other nonprofit organizations is, somewhat paradoxically, accomplished through the federal income tax provisions applicable to these non-taxable entities. Other examples abound, but the point can be made one last time with regard to international business transactions, which are profoundly affected by tax considerations.

The Law School awards the Sidney I. Roberts prize ($5000) each year for the best student paper in Taxation . See the list of Prizes under Courses and Academic Programs. Students may also submit papers to the Donald C. Alexander Writing Competition administered by the Federal Bar Association (  The paper must be 20-50 pages double spaced. Seminar papers and articles submitted (but not yet selected for publication) to law reviews, journals or other competitions are eligible. Winners receive $2000 (1st place) or $1000 (2nd place) and a trip to the Federal Bar Association’s Annual Tax Law Conference in Washington. The deadline is likely to be in January.

For more information about the Tax Law Program at Harvard Law School, please visit:

Last modified: July 29, 2015

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