Our Spotlight series highlights the careers and lives of tax professionals across the globe. This week’s spotlight is on Leandra Lederman.
Lederman is the William W. Oliver Professor of Tax Law and Director of the Tax Program at Indiana University Maurer School of Law. As a tax professor, she runs the Indiana/Leeds Summer Tax Workshop Series with Prof. Leopoldo Parada from the University of Leeds. She has also co-authored books on tax controversies and corporate taxation, published over 50 articles, and is one of the 10 most frequently cited U.S. tax scholars.
What’s your official title and what does it mean? My main title is William W. Oliver Professor of Tax Law. It refers to a professorship endowed in honor of the late Indiana Law tax professor William (Bill) Oliver. Bill Oliver actually started the lovely Oliver Winery in Bloomington, Indiana, so I think of myself as holding the wine professorship!
Free time: book, audiobook, or podcast? Book! It’s nice to relax with a novel when I can spare the time.
Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest? Tax controversies and administration, as well as federal income tax (individual and corporate).
What’s the last movie or show that you watched and loved (DVD, Netflix, or in the theater)? Being Erica, a Canadian show on HBOMax. “Who hasn’t wished, at least once, for the ability to go back in time and do something over?”
What college did you attend and what did you study? Bryn Mawr College. I studied Romance languages (French and Spanish).
Go-to pick-me-up: Coffee or tea? Tea! Preferably iced.
What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you? My mother advised me when I was young not to live to the limits of my income but to save more as my income rises.
If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be? A writer of some kind.
If you had the opportunity to make one change in the tax code—an extra credit, a disallowed deduction, whatever—what would it be? Eliminate the deduction for Qualified Business Income.
Favorite food, snack, or candy during tax season (or other busy time)? Heath bars.
What tax news or move made the most impact on your practice or clients this past year? The increased focus on adequately funding the IRS has made the most impact on my work in the past year. I write a lot about tax enforcement and factors that affect tax compliance, and adequately funding the IRS is critical. In October 2020, I testified at the House Ways & Means Committee Oversight Subcommittee’s hearing on “Taxpayer Fairness.” In my testimony, I focused on the deterrent effect of audits, the need for increased IRS funding, the fact that some taxpayers have more opportunity than others for noncompliance, and that enforcing the tax laws is an important part of taxpayer fairness.
If Uncle Sam handed you a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it? Buy a more powerful computer to facilitate editing videos for the Break Into Tax YouTube channel that Allison Christians and I run. My home computer is new, but it still struggles with Premiere Pro!
You can find Lederman on Twitter, Linked In, and Instagram. She’s also a blogger for the Surly Subgroup and recently started the Break Into Tax YouTube channel with Prof. Allison Christians from McGill University.
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