Professor of Law
Founding Director, Graduate Tax Program
A former Sanskrit professor at Brown University, Richard C.E. Beck finds
that the tax code he now teaches, with its multitudinous rules and layers
of exceptions, has parallels in the study of languages.
"Puzzle-solving enthusiasts gravitate to tax law
because of the enormous number of rules which can intersect in complicated
and unpredictable ways," Professor Beck says. "It is certainly
the most intricate law we have."
An expert in
federal individual income tax who has testified for reform of spousal
liability for income taxes before the Oversight Subcommittee of the House
Ways & Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, Professor
Beck teaches Individual Tax, Tax Policy, International Tax, and the
Taxation of Property Transactions. He has also taught Corporate &
While an assistant professor at the
University of Denver College of Law, he taught in an LL.M. program in tax
and he is now Co-Director of a similar program which he founded at New
York Law School.
He says tax law involves all aspects
of life, personal and business, and has an impact on every area of legal
practice, from divorce and personal injury to bankruptcy and corporate
law. It represents the "most continuous and important relationship we
have with our governments."
pro-taxpayer for an academic," he says. "I look at the way tax
law and administration work in the trenches. It's often unfair to
individuals who don't have the same resources as big organizations. I like
to expose bad case law and misguided rulemaking. I see myself, in part, as
sort of a gadfly."
Professor Beck coauthored a
casebook on taxation of business enterprises, and has published numerous
articles on a wide variety of income tax issues.
Professor Beck grew up in Chicago and earned a B.A. and
Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Chicago, where he also taught
for a year. He then taught Indo-European linguistics and Sanskrit at Brown
for seven years before turning to the study of law at Yale.
After practicing in New York City for five years, Professor
Beck published a tax article that reignited his academic interests, and he
went back to teaching. He has also taught in Paris at the Sorbonne, at the
University of Osnabrück, and at the Wirtschaftsuniversität in
He loves New York City and lives with his wife
in the Village.