LL.M. in Tax Law

The Master of Laws in Taxation (LL.M. in Taxation, sometimes abbreviated as MLT) remains a valuable degree choice for recent Juris Doctorate graduates and practicing lawyers. Because of the complexity of tax law and its impact on business, industrial, financial, governmental, and nonprofit entities, the need for competent tax lawyers in the legal, accounting, and business communities remains strong. Growing companies, contracting companies, and companies involved in acquisitions and mergers also rely on tax professionals to ensure the smooth and legal execution of transactions and tax filings.

Whether working with individuals, tax-exempt entities, corporations, government entities, or small businesses, tax attorneys with specialized LLM degrees in taxation attend to all matters related to tax law and taxation.

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Specializing with an LL.M. in Taxation

LLM in Taxation degree programs are the ideal post-graduate course of study for law students and law professionals who want to:

  • Specialize in estate planning or wealth management
  • Work for a federal or state government agency interpreting or enforcing tax law
  • Assist individuals with federal, state, local, and international tax problems
  • Assist legislature in developing and drafting tax legislation
  • Provide tax litigation and legal counsel to corporations

These programs serve JD-prepared law professionals at many stages of career development:

  • Tax lawyers in international, regional, and local accounting firms
  • Financial product advisors
  • Business executives
  • Estate planning professionals
  • Legal advisors
  • Real estate specialists
  • Recent law school graduates
  • Lawyers in mid-career transition

What to Expect from a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Taxation Degree Program

Lawyers interested in adding a taxation specialty to their repertoire and gaining a solid knowledge base in U.S. tax law, tax policies, regulations, and principles choose an LLM in Taxation.

Although an LLM in Taxation is not required to practice tax law, many lawyers nevertheless choose to pursue this post-JD degree because it better prepares them for the complexity of tax law.
According to a January 2015 article in the Lawyer & Statesman, the LLM in Taxation is held in high esteem because of the complicated and ever-changing nature of tax laws. According to the article, it has become hard to practice tax law without an LLM in Taxation.

An LLM in Taxation provides recent JD graduates and practicing lawyers with the kind of comprehensive understanding of tax law expected of today’s tax professionals, and prepares them for the procedural and technical aspects of practicing tax law.

Program Structure and Admission Requirements

LLM degree programs in the U.S., including those in taxation, earn accreditation through the American Bar Association (ABA). There are currently 31 LLM taxation programs accredited by the ABA, making it one of the most popular LLM specialty tracks.

Candidates for LLM in Taxation programs must possess a JD degree from an ABA-accredited university. Although many programs accept foreign-educated lawyers, they often require these students to take an introductory course in U.S. law/legal methods and submit TOEFL scores prior to enrolling.

Law schools with LLM taxation degrees also frequently require candidates to possess:

  • Letters of recommendation
  • A superb academic record
  • Proof of a commitment to the legal profession

Most programs accept lawyers without any previous specialized knowledge of taxation, although a number of programs offer advanced standing to students enrolling with some experience in taxation or those who have completed graduate work in taxation at another approved law school.

Most LLM in Taxation degrees consist of about 24 credits, completed in two consecutive academic semesters (one year), or in about eight consecutive semesters for part-time programs (two-three years).

Accredited online LLM in Taxation programs are also available, appealing to the working law professionals that typically pursue this degree. Fully online LLM degree programs in taxation are frequently called Executive LLM in Taxation degrees. Practicing lawyers enjoy the flexibility and convenience of these programs, while still having the benefit of direct access to their professors through online discussion boards and email.

Standard Curriculum and Optional Areas of Concentration

The core curriculum of a tax law LLM provides students with a foundational understanding of modern tax law through courses that cover:

  • Taxation of property
  • Tax research
  • Corporate tax
  • Partnership tax
  • Federal income tax

While the core curriculum provides students with a comprehensive foundation in taxation, elective courses allow students to customize their program to meet their professional objectives.
Students may take a blend of electives for a general taxation program or concentrate on a specific area of tax law to round out a comprehensive program. Just a few of the areas of concentration and related courses typically available through LLM in Taxation degree programs include:

Estate Planning

  • Estate and gift taxation
  • Estate planning and drafting
  • Executive compensation
  • Elder law
  • International estate planning
  • Taxation of trusts and fiduciaries
  • Pension and profit sharing plans

International Taxation

  • Taxation of intellectual property
  • Inbound international taxation
  • Transfer pricing and technology
  • Structuring intellectual property ownership

Tax Controversy

  • Tax litigation
  • Tax procedure
  • Tax prosecutions and civil penalties
  • Corporate tax transparency
  • Tax procedures – collections

Business Taxation

  • Taxation of property transactions
  • Tax policy
  • Corporate tax
  • Survey of tax procedure
  • Taxation of affiliated corporations

Depending on the program, students of LLM in Taxation programs may be required to complete a thesis, in-depth writing projects, or independent research project.

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