Taxation Law Focus Area

The Taxation Law Focus Area is essential for students contemplating the practice of tax law. Increasingly, students wishing to specialize in the practice of tax law—whether advising in and planning corporate transactions, or estate planning for high net worth individuals, or some other area of tax law practice—are required to obtain an advance degree in taxation, usually a masters degree (LL.M.). The Taxation Law Focus Area provides an indispensable foundation for students planning to pursue an LL.M. in taxation. LL.M. programs are intensive programs focusing on various areas of federal taxation, including of taxation of individuals and business entities, estate and gift taxation, and international taxation. The programs are one year in duration if attended full time. Most programs can also be attended part-time while students are working.

The University of Washington Law School instituted an LL.M. program in the early 1990s, and there is a growing network of Seattle University alumni who have completed it. In addition, Seattle University alumni have attended and obtained degrees from many other LL.M. programs throughout the country, including New York University Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, and the University of Florida Law School.

For students not contemplating an advanced degree, a tax focus is still important for practicing in most small and medium-sized firms, many of which handle the majority of their clients' business and personal matters, including tax issues within a range of business and estate-planning contexts. The three basic tax courses (Individual Income Tax, Gift and Estate Tax, and Corporate and Partnership Tax) equip attorneys to handle all but the most sophisticated issues in these contexts. Furthermore, attorneys who have taken the basic tax courses will be well prepared to acquire advanced tax knowledge through the many tax-oriented periodicals and continuing education programs.

The bedrock foundational course for the Tax Law Focus Area is Individual Income Tax. Building on that course are additional foundational courses including Gift and Estate Tax and Corporate and Partnership Tax. These courses then act as prerequisites for the tax-planning skills courses (Business Planning and Estate Planning). The foundational tax courses—Individual Income Tax, Corporate and Partnership Tax, and Gift and Estate Tax—should be taken in the second year. This will allow students to take the more advanced tax electives and related courses thereafter.

Focus Area Faculty

Career Faculty
John Eason Taxation of Charitable (Non-profit) Organizations
Lily Kahng* Corporate and Partnership Tax, Individual Income Tax, Tax Policy Seminar
Diane Dick Corporate and Partnership Tax

* Focus Area Chair

Adjunct Faculty
Judd Marten Estate Planning, Gift and Estate Tax

Focus Area Requirements

Plan the completion of your focus area with a focus area tracking form.

Course Descriptions

Foundational Courses (all courses required)

  • Individual Income Tax (4 cr)
  • Corporate/Partnership Tax (4 cr)
  • Gift & Estate Tax (3 cr)

Skills Component Courses (at least one required)

  • Estate Planning (3 cr)
  • Not-for-Profit Clinic (2 cr)

[If a student takes both Business Planning and Estate Planning, one can be counted toward the skills requirement and the other can count toward the elective requirements. The same course cannot count as both a skills course and an elective.]

Elective Courses (at least two courses required)

  • Estate Planning (3 cr)
  • International Taxation (3 cr)
  • State and Local Tax (3 cr)
  • Taxation of Charitable (Non-profit) Organizations (2 cr)
  • Tax Policy Seminar (2 cr)

Additional Related Courses

These courses are not part of the focus area but are sufficiently related that students might wish to take one or more of these in conjunction with the focus:

  • Business Entities
  • Community Property
  • Family Dissolution
  • Trusts and Estates
  • UCC Sales and Secured Transactions