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The University of Southern California Gould School of Law has announced the launch of a master of laws in taxation degree, beginning in fall 2010. The program will be the first LL.M. that the school has offered to its U.S. students, said Dean Robert Rasmussen. The school already has an LL.M. for foreign students; it enrolls approximately 100 each year, he said. The new tax LL.M. is designed to attract working professionals who plan to specialize, particularly in light of the tight job market, Rasmussen said. “We sat down with partners at law firms and asked: What do they value? What do they see that is more likely for them to hire someone? The one thing they talked about is the tax LL.M,” he said. “I think tax is a very complex and specialized field,” he continued. “Tax lawyers are always in demand. You would think our tax code would be changed, both in California and the federal government, which both have budget crises. And it’s reasonable to conjecture one response to the crises is [that] they’ll amend the respective tax codes one way or the other. That will continue to increase the demand for tax lawyers.” The program would allow students to receive their degree after completing 24 units, including courses such as bankruptcy taxation, tax policy, international taxation and income tax timing issues. The regular professors in the program will be Elizabeth Garrett, who was appointed to President Bush’s Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform in 2005; Edward McCaffery, an internationally recognized expert in tax law; Edward D. Kleinbard, former chief of staff of the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation; and Thomas Griffith, who has written extensively on tax matters and is past subcommittee chairman of the American Bar Association’s Committee of Problems of Low Income Taxpayers. The program will be offered full time, which takes a year, and part time, about two years. The law school’s regular annual tuition of $44,675 would apply. So far, Rasmussen said, the program is not being offered as a dual degree with a J.D., although that could change. “For all the programs we do, we obviously make sure it makes financial sense to do them,” Rasmussen said. “We need revenues in order to run a first class law school. If it were a program that would cost us money, we probably wouldn’t be doing it.” Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, earlier this year began offering a joint J.D. and tax LL.M. that allows students to earn both degrees in three years.

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