David Warner (LL.M. ’09) was awarded first prize in the Theodore Tannenwald Jr. Foundation for Excellence in Tax Scholarship’s 2009 writing competition. Warner, the sixth NYU Law student to finish in the top three for a Tannenwald prize in the last five years, will receive a $5,000 prize for his paper “A Pathway to Fundamental Healthcare Reform?: The Exclusion from Income for Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance.”

Warner chose his topic, the taxation of healthcare and healthcare reform, more than a year ago, while following the 2008 presidential election. The attention paid to healthcare by the candidates made Warner realize that there was plenty to learn about the industry, and he went to work researching the role of taxation in the healthcare debate. With some guidance from Professor Noël Cunningham (LL.M. '75), Warner took his paper from a highly-technical first draft to a contextualized discussion of how the tax system can aid healthcare reform through a “fixed-benefits cap.” A fixed-benefits cap would “define a uniform level of health insurance (the “baseline level”), which should cover healthcare that is necessary to maintain an individual’s basic health,” according to Warner’s paper. "Professor Cunningham was invaluable throughout the writing process. He suggested that I find my voice—my story to tell—and that this story would help to guide the reader through the material," says Warner. "It was this idea that led to my decision to discuss the taxation of healthcare in the context of the current debate over healthcare reform legislation."

Now working for the Internal Revenue Service in the Office of Chief Counsel in Orange County, California, Warner is concentrating on tax court litigation, Foreign Bank Account Reporting (FBAR), and the Voluntary Disclosure Program for offshore bank accounts.

Posted December 15, 2009