On September 27, NYU School of Law hosted the 16th annual David R. Tillinghast Lecture on International Taxation.  The evening began with a tribute to a luminary in the tax law world: James S. Eustice (LL.M. ’58), Gerald R. Wallace Professor of Taxation Emeritus, who passed away earlier this year after serving on the NYU Law faculty for more than 50 years.  NYU Adjunct Professor M. Carr Ferguson gave a moving and colorful tribute to an audience that included Eustice’s wife, Carol Fonda Eustice, and daughter, Cynthia Eustice LaPier.  Eustice was most widely known for his work with Professor Boris Bittker of Yale Law School on the treatise on corporate taxation that bears their name, now in its seventh edition.  But Eustice’s contributions to NYU went far beyond his scholarship: Ferguson described the countless hours Eustice devoted to shaping the NYU tax curriculum and course work, “making them sing.”  The NYU Law Library will be home to the Eustice papers, which include Eustice’s handwritten notes for the first edition of the Bittker & Eustice treatise and his collection of tax cartoons which had adorned the filing cabinets in his office for decades. 

The lecture that followed featured Dr. Jeffrey Owens, director of the Centre for Tax Policy and Administration at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris.  Owens spoke about the ways that nations are shaping their tax systems to compete for increasingly mobile players in the international economy.  “We need to change the dynamics in the relationship between large corporations, their advisors and tax authorities,” Owens said, stressing the importance of predictability in taxation and transparency in the creation and enforcement policy.  The discussion is timely both in the U.S. and elsewhere: with deficits and debt reaching unprecedented levels as a share of GDP throughout the OECD membership, the United States is not the only country considering major tax reform, potentially including both increased  revenues and cuts to government services. 

Owens cautioned that tax policy must be considered in the context of other key factors that influence patterns of trade, including investments in infrastructure and services, as well as the effectiveness of government institutions and administration of tax laws.  He reported that earlier in the month he gave a presentation to the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services on how other nations are reforming their tax systems, as Congress considers the possibility of major tax reform. “I think there needs to be more cooperation,” Owens said.  “The way we respond to the pressure of globalization is better coordination.”

Watch the full video of the event (1 hr, 15 min):