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A Problem-Based Approach to an International Tax Law Course

Alli Gerkman Posted in Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers®, Featured

Professor Anthony C. Infanti, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, uses a problem-based teaching method to expose students to the complex concept of international tax law. Professor Infanti’s teaching method highlights the practical aspects of tax law and integrates all three Carnegie Apprenticeships.

Professor Infanti’s International Tax Law course is an advanced tax law offering and builds upon the concepts learned in a basic federal income tax class. As one of the most complex subspecialties in the tax law field, students work extensively with the three overlapping authorities (U.S. domestic tax law, U.S. international tax rules, and U.S. tax treaties). Throughout the course, students complete a research project and draft a series of legal memoranda, culminating with a draft office memorandum—one of the most typical forms of communicating international tax law findings in practice—that applies the law to a hypothetical. This final project allows Professor Infanti to see whether students can identify issues and relevant facts, analyze the issue by applying the correct international tax law, and then come to a legal conclusion with advice to the hypothetical client.

Through this course, Professor Infanti exposes students to what practicing international tax law is really like.

I aim to equip my students with the skills that they need to lead successful and rewarding professional lives. This means not only providing them with substantive knowledge of the tax laws, but also the analytical, research, and writing skills that are key to success. It likewise means starting students thinking about the type of professional they wish to be and introducing them to both the social justice aspects of tax law and their part in shaping the role of tax law in our society.

The full International Tax Law course portfolio is available online, including teaching objectives and outcomes, application tools, videos, course materials, and student work.