Tax Lawyers are People Too

4 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2020

See all articles by Claire A. Hill

Claire A. Hill

University of Minnesota Law School

Date Written: 2007


When tax lawyers are shown to have been particularly "successful" in limiting or even eliminating their clients' tax liability, there is often an outcry, including for more law. But law's ability to deal with these problems is limited, for many reasons, including one less remarked upon than it should be: There is a continuum, from the "(Almost?) Over the Edge Envelope Pushing" tax lawyer to the "Old Venerable Risk-Hating" tax lawyer with, of course, most people falling somewhere along the continuum. Benefits to the "(Almost?) Over the Edge Envelope Pushing" lawyer might include living dangerously on the edge of detection, being more clever than her competitors in coming up with a brilliant shelter idea, being clever in avoiding detection, or the like. For the "Old Venerable Risk-Hating" lawyer, no such benefits would be available and the associated costs would loom large. Indeed, something that would be a cost to Venerable - say, appearing on the front page of the newspaper as somebody who had designed an aggressive shelter - might be a benefit to Envelope Pusher. Envelope Pushing is not always bad: the law doesn't always get things right. But it is certainly not always good. Regulatory interventions should be designed taking into account that different people approach tax compliance with different mindsets.

Keywords: tax law, tax liability, tax shelters

Suggested Citation

Hill, Claire Ariane, Tax Lawyers are People Too (2007). 26 Virginia Tax Review 1065 (2007), Available at SSRN:

Claire Ariane Hill (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota Law School ( email )

229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States
612-624-6521 (Phone)

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