Professor Deborah Geier has published “U.S. Federal Income Taxation of Individuals,” a new textbook for use in the first Federal Income Tax course, with CALI’s eLangdell Press. She declined expressions of interest from the legacy legal publishers in favor of making the textbook available as a free download over the internet in an effort to eliminate or reduce student cost. This first (2014) edition is available only in pdf format, but the 2015 edition (forthcoming in late December or early January after Congress acts on pending legislation) will also be available in ePub format for iPads and Mobi format for Kindles (for free), with an at-cost, print-on-demand alternative for those who like a hard copy. To download the book, click here.
In addition to eliminating (or lowering) student cost, this mode of publication will permit Professor Geier to quickly and fully update the book each December or early January, incorporating expiring provisions, inflation adjustments for the coming calendar year, new Treasury Regulations, etc., in time for use in the spring semester, an approach that avoids cumbersome new editions or annual supplements. This publication method also makes the textbook suitable for use as a free study aid for students whose professors adopt another textbook, as this textbook walks the student through the law with many more fact patterns and examples than do many other textbooks. Finally, having the textbook easily accessible to foreign students enrolled in a course examining the U.S. Federal income taxation of individuals is important to Professor Geier, and having the textbook available as a free internet download succeeds well in that regard.
This textbook is not intended to be an exhaustive treatise; rather, it is intended to be far more useful than that for beginning tax law students by equipping the novice not merely with unmoored detail but rather with a rich blueprint that illuminates the deeper structural framework on which that detail hangs (sometimes crookedly). Chapter 1 outlines the conceptual meaning of the term “income” for uniquely tax purposes (as opposed to financial accounting or trust law purposes, for example) and examines the Internal Revenue Code provisions that translate this larger conceptual construct into positive law. Chapter 2 explores various forms of consumption taxation because the modern Internal Revenue Code is best perceived as a hybrid income-consumption tax that also contains many provisions—for wise or unwise nontax policy reasons—that are inconsistent with both forms of taxation. Chapter 3 then provides students with the story of how we got to where we are today, important context about the distribution of the tax burden, the budget, and economic trends, as well as material on ethical debates, economic theories, and politics as they affect taxation.
Armed with this larger blueprint, students are then in a much better position to see how the myriad pieces that follow throughout the remaining 19 chapters fit into this bigger picture, whether comfortably or uncomfortably. For example, they are in a better position to appreciate how applying the income tax rules for debt to a debt-financed investment afforded more favorable consumption tax treatment creates tax arbitrage problems. Congress and the courts then must combat these tax shelter opportunities (sometimes ineffectively) with both statutory and common law weapons. Stated another way, students are in a better position to appreciate how the tax system can sometimes be used to generate (or combat) unfair and economically inefficient rent-seeking behavior. The underlying conceptual framework, context, and ethical and economic theories provided early on are then referenced throughout the book, providing the common thread with respect to every topic studied.