Richard Davis, M.Tax, J.D.
Professor of Accounting
After working for a while as an IRS tax attorney, I began telling people that I worked for the U.S. Treasury Department because so many people acted as if IRS employees were aliens from another planet who only wanted to wring dollars out of U.S. taxpayers. I want my students to understand that it is our duty to pay taxes—but only our fair share. And no more! I teach my students how to use financial planning and tax-advantaged transactions to legally minimize taxes to maximize revenue and wealth. And I emphasize how the tax law significantly impacts many of the political, economic and social issues in our country.
In my legal environment of business course, we emphasize business ethics. We discuss how the right thing to do is almost always the best business practice. No law requires employers to be nice to their employees. But it makes good business sense because if you treat your employees with respect and compassion, they are more productive. It’s such a simple concept, yet so often ignored.
I’ve twice directed the business school’s semester-long London Program, which immerses business students in the culture and business environment of Great Britain and the European Union. I also co-direct a three-week GO short program in London that focuses on British law, law enforcement and security. I think it’s important to keep an open mind about a country’s law and culture. A country’s culture can be shaped by its law, and its law can develop from its culture.
Service learning is an important part of a student’s education. I encourage our accounting majors to join me in preparing tax returns for our local senior citizens under an IRS-sponsored program called Tax Counseling for the Elderly. I’ve seen a student help a low-income grandmother get a $650 property tax rebate, and she reacted like she had won the lottery. Grandmother told the student she would be able to get nicer Christmas presents for her grandchildren. The student sat quietly with tears in her eyes. The students often get a little emotional because they don’t realize the good they do until they actually do it.
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