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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – On April 10 in Atherton Hall, a small group of Schreyer Honors College Scholars sat down with Penn State Law associate professor James M. Puckett to learn about consumption taxes, including value-added taxes and similar taxes.
Puckett, a federal income tax scholar, carefully explained the differences between a VAT and the destination-based cash-flow tax, which is the centerpiece of the House GOP tax reform agenda. Puckett also discussed ways to design consumption taxes to avoid imposing undue burdens on those least able to pay tax. It was the sixth time Puckett has met with Schreyer Scholars this academic year as part of the college’s Distinguished Honors Faculty Program.
Designed to extend learning outside of the classroom, the program connects Scholars with faculty members from across Penn State. Over lunch and dinner conversations and through field trips, films, and small-group discussions, the faculty and scholars share experiences that can’t be replicated in coursework.
“It’s always a fun conversation, and I think I may get as much out of it as the Scholars,” Puckett said. “This experience also gives me ideas of tax topics that would be interesting to members of the public who have not necessarily studied tax before.”
Beginning in the fall semester and spanning the academic year, Puckett’s other Schreyer activities have included a screening of a documentary on the federal tax code, a small group dinner with students at a State College restaurant, and a panel discussion with Penn State Law students on their experiences studying the law.
“The Scholars are always engaged—really impressive—and they bring great questions,” Puckett said. “It’s really exciting for me to have this opportunity to talk about tax policy—and law more generally—in a less formal environment.”
At Penn State Law, Puckett teaches Basic Federal Income Taxation, Corporate and Partnership Tax, Property, and Wills, Trusts and Estates. His current research projects explore issues at the intersection of taxation and administrative law, as well as economic inequality.
Prior to joining Penn State Law, Puckett was a visiting assistant professor at the Seattle University School of Law and the University of Alabama School of Law. He began his legal career as an associate at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP in Washington, D.C., where his practice focused on the tax aspects of mergers, acquisitions, spin-offs, private equity, and financial products in domestic and international transactions.
He will continue in the Distinguished Honors Faculty Program in the 2017–2018 academic year.