Tax Law Tackled in Graduate Program

Dr. Rafi Efrat

(April 24, 2017) - In 1789 Benjamin Franklin wrote, "In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." But the M.S. Taxation program turns the tax world into a chance to serve the public.

At a recent info session for the program, director Rafi Efrat explained the upside to the tax world. "If you are interested in taxation, the good news is there will be expected growth in the field, driven largely because the tax code has become so complicated."

The filing deadline recently passed, but the season never ends. Tax professionals have to cope with expanding regulations, codes and court cases. The U.S. Tax Code totaled 400 pages in 1913. A century later, it had grown to 73,954 pages, according to Wolters Kluwer CCH. Even the IRS acknowledged, "The most serious problem facing taxpayers is the complexity of the Internal Revenue Code." Taxpayers and businesses spend about 7.6 billion hours a year complying with filing requirements.

"It becomes inevitable that tax providers need specialization to provide competent, contemporary advice," said Efrat, a professor of accountancy and director of the Bookstein Institute for Higher Education in Taxation. "Many tax firms require a master’s degree to advance in a firm."

Efrat explained how students take their learning into the community:

  • The highly regarded VITA clinic provides free advice and tax preparation for low-income taxpayers. "We established the VITA tax clinic, and more than 350 students take part. Six thousand tax returns were filed this year. Students can incorporate work they do in class in tax preparation or supervisory work at the clinic."
  • The Bookstein Low Income Clinic gives students a chance to resolve tax disputes at no charge to the taxpayer. They even represent taxpayers in front of the IRS.
  • The Bookstein Community Outreach Tax Clinic educates the public about their rights and responsibilities under the federal tax system. The clinic provides free workshops in English and other languages to residents and business owners.
  • Students share what they learn. "We collaborate with the federal and state government, training small businesses and low-income taxpayers," he said. "Students can serve as educators on tax-related matters."
  • The Speakers Series brings CSUN alumni to campus to share their expertise about tax issues and careers.

"Experiential opportunities add dimension to the program that is not available in other programs," he said. "We want to provide students with the opportunity to grow."