Professor of Law
Managing Director, Graduate Tax Program
In 1992, Ann F. Thomas began a second career in academic law with a fellowship year at the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College, after 17 years (10 as partner) working in the corporate tax department at Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson, where she specialized in mergers and acquisitions. Professor Thomas spent two years as an adjunct professor at Yale Law School and joined New York Law Schools faculty in 1995.
Professor Thomas, who teaches a range of tax courses and is codirector of the Graduate Tax Program, was drawn to academia because of the chance to explore and develop a subject she views as fundamental to how societies function.
We need to promote greater tax literacy among lawyers. Teaching is very rewarding from that point of view, Professor Thomas says. Some students here are already working in tax and a good number are interested in the tax field executive and corporate practice and they really add to the fruitful discussion of tax issues.
Professor Thomas says her first love in taxation research is in the corporate and business context, but she also concentrates her scholarship on income tax and urges a re-examination of the assumptions about marriage and family that underlie current policy.
Our tax subsidies should work to promote the care and nurturing of children. In modern society, families can come in many different configurations. Tax policy should support family life and not just the traditional sole-earner household, says Professor Thomas.
In 1999, Professor Thomas organized a symposium for the New York Law School Journal of Human Rights on the subject of Women, Equity, and Federal Tax Policy: Open Questions. More than 20 experts from across the countrylegal scholars, economists, and activistsspent a full day examining tax policy problems that diminish the financial security of women, including the possible marriage penalty within the income tax code. With the help of the Marjorie Cook Foundation, the Journal of Human Rights distributed the symposium volume to every member of Congress, key Treasury and White House staff, law professors, and economists. The timing coincided with fierce debates in both houses of Congress over marriage and income tax.
Although teaching tax law to future lawyers and practitioners is her primary mission, Professor Thomas uses her work in tax history to bring tax policy back to the citizens. As she sees it, tax literacy is the only way to ensure tax policies that reflect the needs of all citizens. We need to make the theory and the history of taxation more accessible so that voters can have a more informed view of our tax policy choices. Only then will they be able to set the agenda for future policy choices, she says.
Professor Thomas studies and teaches about comparative systems of corporate taxation around the world and sees a need in the increasingly global marketplace for an expansion of international cooperation on business and tax issues.
Professor Thomas is in the process of finishing a book examining the history of the U.S. tax system during the Progressive Era and the emergence of the modern income tax system in 1913.
Harvard-Radcliffe, A.B. 1973
Yale, J.D. 1976
Fellow, Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College, 1992
Corporate tax partner, Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson. Research interests include income tax history, entity taxation, taxation of marriage.