This book is a basic income tax text. I intend this text to be suitable for a three-hour course for a class comprised of law students with widely different backgrounds.
Certain principles permeate all of tax law. I have found that certain axioms or principles will carry us a long way. For example, income is taxed once – or treated as if it has been taxed. Once it has been taxed, its investment gives the taxpayer basis – which I define not as cost but as money that will not be subject to tax again. Etc. The text returns to these principles throughout. I usually put these matters in text boxes.
At a minimum, I want students who have completed basic income tax to know these principles and to be able to apply them, i.e., to develop some “tax intuition.” This intuition will serve well the student who wishes to take more tax classes. I tried to identify what I want students to know before enrolling in corporate tax or partnership tax – and to make certain that I covered these principles in the basic course. Such intuition will also serve well the student for whom the basic course is a “one and done” experience. Like it or not, tax law affects most legal topics, and such intuition should at least give students working in other areas of the law an idea of when it is time to ask questions concerning lurking tax issues.