Two BYU law professors have rocketed to the list of the top 20 most-downloaded tax law professors of all time.
And one of them did it less than two years into her academic career.
Gladriel Shobe joined BYU Law’s faculty in July 2016 and currently ranks No. 18 in her field with 23,544 downloads of her scholarly articles. Her senior colleague Clifton Fleming checks in at No. 7 in the country with 86,935 downloads through SSRN, which provides digital access to scholarly work.
“The most important part to me isn’t necessarily making it on the list,” Shobe said. “It’s the fact that so many scholars and tax attorneys are reading the articles because you spend a lot of time thinking through these issues and trying to make sure that what you write is helpful.”
Both Shobe and Fleming surged in the rankings in the last 12 months because of their separate analyses of the recent federal tax legislation.
One of Shobe’s articles critiqued a proposed piece of tax legislation, which would initially have repealed a deduction for state taxes but not local property taxes. She demonstrated how that would subsidize wealthy neighborhoods, and Congress ultimately revised the final tax reform bill to allow a limited deduction for both state and local taxes.
“The final version found a middle ground that is a reasonable compromise on that isolated part of the bill,” Shobe said.
Fleming also sounded a warning about the recent tax legislation before it passed. One paper suggested a minimum tax on foreign income, and a version of that suggestion was included in the new tax legislation. Two of his other writings identified tax loopholes and tax avoidance opportunities in the legislation while it was still being formulated.
“Congress really needed to slow down and think more carefully about what they were doing and craft a piece of legislation that was substantially less open to manipulation,” Fleming said.
Those loopholes remained in the bill that became law in December, but, said Fleming, “We are going to stay in the fight.”
“There is work to do. What happened in December 2017 doesn’t end the debate by any means. We need to provide really sound, powerful critiques to explain where the problems are and why we need to go another way.”
Shobe has also published articles about new tax structures companies use in IPOs. One impact of those articles is that it has provided her with unique collaborative research opportunities. She’s also distinguished herself in the classroom, with first-year law students voting her “Professor of the Year” for 2016-2017.