CourseState & Local Taxation - Law 655M
Instructor John A. Swain   View Faculty Page
Units 3 - Graded


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The course has two major components.  First, the federal constraints on state taxation are explored.  Specifically addressed are the Commerce Clause, Equal Protection Clause, Due Process Clause, Privileges and Immunities Clause, and several federal statutes. Second, students learn the basic structure and operation of the three major sources of state and local tax revenue:  sales tax, income tax, and property tax.  Most state tax systems were developed in a far simpler time. Thus, a major theme of the course is the tension between often anachronistic state tax systems and a changing world. Special attention will be paid to the taxation of e-commerce.


State and Local Taxation, by Walter Hellerstein, Kirk Stark, John Swain, and Joan Youngman, 9th Ed.

Course Format

Discussion and lecture

Written Assignments


Type of Exam


Basis for grading


Additional Comments

State and local taxes comprise close to fifty percent of total government tax revenue.  Thus, they are substantially equivalent in importance to the federal income tax.  Employment opportunities for state and local tax specialists abound in private law firms, accounting firms, and state and local governments.  Moreover, as distinguished from federal tax advice and disputes, this is one area of the tax law in which non-tax specialists can often feel comfortable and competent in handling client matters.

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