The Theodore Tannenwald, Jr. Foundation for Excellence in Tax Scholarship has named third-year Temple Law student Samuel Lapin as a runner-up in the prestigious Tannenwald Writing Competition. He is the first Temple student to place in the national competition, held annually.
Lapin wasn’t always focused on tax law. Currently a 3L, he began law school with an interest in policy. As a Law & Public Policy Scholar, he worked for the Congressional Research Service while completing Temple’s immersive seven-week experiential public policy program in Washington, D.C. He also serves as a Note and Comment Editor on the Temple Law Review. He sees his dual interests in tax and policy as naturally connected. “Tax is very policy-oriented,” Lapin remarked. “I really find the policy aspect exciting and fascinating.”
The prestigious competition, sponsored by the Theodore Tannenwald, Jr. Foundation for Excellence in Tax Scholarship and The American College of Tax Counsel, is open to both J.D. and LL.M. students. Papers primarily focus on technical or policy-oriented tax issues relating to any type of existing or proposed U.S. federal or state tax, or U.S. federal or state taxation system, including topics relating to tax practice ethical and professional responsibility matters. Submissions to the competition have to be sponsored by a faculty member and are then evaluated anonymously in two stages – first by an Academic Advisory Board and then by members of the Foundation’s Board of Directors.
Professor Alice Abreu, who served as Lapin’s faculty sponsor for the competition, was effusive in her praise of his efforts, describing his performance as, “fabulous … I’m so very proud of Sam, and happy his hard work and talent for tax is being nationally and publicly recognized.”
Lapin’s paper, which tied for second place in the contest, is titled Finding Propaganda: How to Stop Grassroots Lobbying Costs from Slipping through the Cracks of Section 162(e). In it, Lapin examines the practice, common among many businesses, of deducting lobbying costs from their taxable income. He argues that some businesses abuse the exception, which allows a deduction for the costs of certain advertisements, when those advertisements may be a form of lobbying in disguise. His paper proposes several solutions that policymakers could implement to fix this issue.
Looking forward, Lapin is well-positioned to turn his affinity for tax policy into an exciting career, having accepted a clerkship position with the Hon. Cary D. Pugh of the U.S. Tax Court upon graduation. Although opportunities to work on the Tax Court are rare for J.D. graduates –most clerkships are offered to lawyers who have just completed their LL.M.s in Tax, or who have been in practice for a number of years – Lapin is actually the second J.D. from Temple to have been offered a clerkship in as many years. Judge Pugh, who was nominated to a seat on the Tax Court by President Barack Obama in June 2014, has also been identified as the 2017 speaker for the annual tax-focused Fogel Lecture to be held this spring.
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