Robert Ricketts

Director, School of Accounting

Frank M. Burke Chair in Taxation

Rawls College of Business


"I chose to remain a domiciled taxpayer for a couple of reasons. The main one was that I wanted my children to grow up where I grew up, to have proper roots in a culture as old and magnificent as Britain’s; to be citizens, with everything that implies, of a real country, not free-floating ex-pats, living in the limbo of some tax haven and associating only with the children of similarly greedy tax exiles.

A second reason, however, was that I am indebted to the British welfare state; the very one that Mr Cameron would like to replace with charity handouts. When my life hit rock bottom, that safety net, threadbare though it had become under John Major’s Government, was there to break the fall. I cannot help feeling, therefore, that it would have been contemptible to scarper for the West Indies at the first sniff of a seven-figure royalty cheque. This, if you like, is my notion of patriotism. ..." J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter author) on why she does not leave Britain to avoid high taxes.


 An Artistic Analogy for Graduate Education

you have to become comfortable working in an environment of uncertainty (leave the cage!)


Why We Pay Taxes


What Really Happens if You Don't Pay Your Taxes? (Yahoo Business)


Course Materials:


ACCT 5332 Accounting Ethics

First assignment:

1.        Ethics Position Survey – complete and submit a printout of your results in class on Thursday.

2.        Political Compass test -- complete and submit a printout of your results.

3.        Read “My Antibusiness Education” (Matthew Tice, recent graduate of Bentley University, published in The Wall Street Journal) and submit a one-page summary of your reaction/opinion to this article. We will discuss this on Thursday (among other things) and you have a high probability of being called upon in class to share your views.

Second assignment:

1.        Read chapter 2 in your textbook.

2.        Prepare a written solution (no more than 3 pages) to Case 2-1 Cynthia Cooper and WorldCom and submit in class on Tuesday.

3.        Be prepared to make a formal presentation of your solution to Case 2-1 in class. One or two groups will be called upon to make a formal presentation.

AICPA Code of Professional Conduct

Power Point slides:

Corporate Responsibility

AICPA Code of Professional Conduct

ACCT5306 International Taxation (click to follow link)

ACCT 5307 Income Tax for Managers (click to follow link)

Osher Institute Presentations (click to follow link)




Tax Humor

3rd Rock from the Sun -- Dick discovers the income tax (very funny, especially the scene where Mary tells him how much he owes) link currently not working, looking for new link

Kramer on corporate write-offs (revised link)

John Stewart on U.S. corporate inversions

Jon Stewart Show segment on the tax consequences of Oprah's 2004 car giveaway (funny)

John Branyan -- Accountants and Rock n Roll (pretty funny)

Yoram Bauman, PhD, the world's first and only stand-up economist (not really tax, but either I'm a geek, or he's pretty funny -- we, of course, can't rule out that both are true)

Attitudes toward tax have certainly changed ... check out this Donald Duck cartoon encouraging Americans to pay their taxes to help win the war  (Pay Your Taxes to Beat the Axis)


 Tax Resources for Accounting Students


Tax Policy Center Home Page  

IRS Home Page       

Tax History Project providing information on the history of U.S. public finance (Tax Analysts)

Historical tax forms (the evolution of Form 1040 from 1864 to the present!)

What Do Accountants Do?


Easy Listening

Stand By Me (this is great)               

Imagine, Liel, with Bill Clinton, 40 Arab children and 40 Jewish children (also great)

Free Hugs (we should all try this)

Love (sand art)

Vincent , duo with Don Mclean and Chet Atkins (nice song, great guitar duo)

The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends (a young Robert Earle Keen live and solo in studio)

Live and Die by Shades of Gray (Keen again on Austin City Limits, pretty good)

The Original Motorcycle Dog (not a song, but a video guaranteed to put a smile on your face)



Good Reads

Come across something good that you think I should add to this list? Please, send me an email (

Tax History: When Treasury Refused to Collect the Income Tax (why the income tax was not enforced during the Civil War)

Kansas Tries to Shrink its Way to Prosperity (early evaluation of Kansas' experiment with significant tax cuts)

The Walgreens Inversion (interesting discussion of how this saves Walgreens money--it's not clear)

At Sears, Eddie Lampert's Warring Divisions Model Adds to the Troubles (Business Week article on the unusual business model at Sears in which each division competes internally for capital. Compare this approach to Ford's "One Ford" model.)

An Analysis of Long-Term Unemployment, with some Help from Dilbert ... (Dilbert is actually not much help, but the rest of the post by Jodi Beggs is very interesting, emphasizing that economic success is strongly path-dependent).

Why Didn't the SEC Catch Madoff? It Might Have Been Policy Not To (extremely frustrating article; these stories are why we need a stronger ethics curriculum in B-Schools, and continuing training in ethics in the business world. We also need for state boards of accounting, corporate America, et al. to understand that training in the "rules of practice" is not ethics training).

Growth in a Time Before Debt (very well-written, and illustrated, explanation of the relation between government debt and GDP growth by Arindrajit Dube, assistant professor of economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst)

How the 100-Year Old Income Tax Unleashed the Modern U.S. Economy (Charlotte Crane, Law Professor at Northwestern, in The Atlantic)

Red Ink: Inside the High-Stakes Politics of the Federal Budget (explanation of the federal budget in layman's terms)

How We Averted the Fiscal Cliff: As a CPA, People Might Expect You to Know This Crap (Funny, and accurate, explanation of the fiscal cliff agreement from goingconcern)

Foreclosure Settlement Shuts Down Reviews: Banks Will Continue Business as Usual (Francine McKenna, re: The Auditors "One example of a court case that tells the truth of what the banks have been intentionally doing to book profits is the Magner bankruptcy case in Louisiana. The judge found one bank, Wells Fargo, is systemically – meaning they set their systems to do it – overcharging and fraudulently fining borrowers to squeeze the lifeblood out of them before disposing of them in foreclosures.")

Secrets and Lies of the Bailout (Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone, still the best financial reporter in the country, hands down)

The Rationale for a Liberal Education (nice summary of why higher education in the U.S. is structured the way it is, and how that benefits students and society)

Private Inequity (New Yorker article on tax incentives that make poor economic decisions by private equity firms profitable)

Bumps in the Road to Convergence (NYT, acrimonious split between FASB and IASB)

America's Long Slope Down (David Cay Johnston, "How many years of evidence does it take to establish that a policy worked or failed?")

Failure is an Option (James Kwak's review of Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson)

Cancer vs. the Constitution (Dr. Jen Gunter exposes the myth that the uninsured can use hospital emergency rooms for treatment of long-term illness)

No Obvious Relationship Between Capital Gains Tax Rates and Economic Growth (short, nice summary by Len Burman at the Tax Policy Center).

What is the Revenue-Maximizing Tax Rate? (2012 Tax Notes article by Bruce Bartlett summarizing research on this question)

Watch: A real conservative's views on our tax system--Bruce Bartlett, architect of Reagan's tax "revolution," on what's wrong with our politics.

Matt Taibbi, "Why Wall Street Should Stop Whining"

Bruce Bartlett, senior advisor to presidents Reagan and Bush I, former staff member for both Jack Kemp and Ron Paul, on the fallacy that tax cuts pay for themselves: "Tilting the Budget Process to the G.O.P."

Here's a good read from Bloomberg: "Raise Taxes on the Rich to Reward the True Job Creators"--logical, insightful article on the role of the middle vs. the upper class in making the economy strong. (It appears that "job creators" is a political term designed by people who think, in some cases rightly, that voters are stupid.)

These guys' maximum tax rate (for the majority of their income) is 23.8%. What's yours?

Greed, Excess and America's Gaping Class Divide (Matt Taibbi on the excesses of the rich)

Take this test and see if you need to read more (or watch actual news) ...

JP Morgan Chase Fine: Another Slap on the Wrist for Wall Street (Matt Taibbi on the $228 million fine imposed by  the SEC on JP Morgan Chase)

Here's a fascinating look at tax history--look at the tax burden borne by the rich in 1941 (NYT Article, 12/1/2010)

Turns out that GM did not lose its NOL c/fs--Congress exempts company from Sec. 382

Google's Effective Tax Rate (you have to wonder how long this can last ...)

Corporate Tax Rates--OECD Countries  -- compare to this article by Bruce Bartlett, economic advisor to Ronald Reagan, "Are Taxes in the U.S. High or Low?"

Are Taxes High or Low? A Further Look (second look at federal tax rates from Bruce Bartlett, in response to many readers' comments on his first article (linked immediately above)

Citi under fire over deferred tax assets

Ford (and others) implement new measures to preserve tax loss carryforwards under Sec. 382

Summary of historic income tax rates--1918-2008

The People v. Goldman Sachs (the clear-eyed Matt Taibbi--I'm no longer sure why we have a Justice Department)

Everything Associates Didn't Learn in Law School (New article on the "unspoken and intangible attributes" that lead to professional success--equally true for accountants)

Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail? (Matt Taibbi in the 3/3/2011 issue of Rolling Stone--this is a must read for anyone interested in the causes and implications of the Great Recession).

The Great British Corporate Tax Giveaway (Lee Sheppard, writing in Forbes about the real motives behind corporate calls for corporate tax reform)

An Economic Philosophy That Has Completely Failed (This article by William Black at the University of Missouri Kansas City is a must read for anyone interested in why we need regulation and why we need honest accountants, or at least honest accounting)

Tax Cutters Set Up Tomorrow's Fiscal Crisis (Simon Johnson's clear explanation of the tax cut mistake)

Why the Rich are Getting Richer (Robert Lieberman, in Foreign Affairs, on the role of government policy in exacerbating income inequality--kind of wonky, but insightful)

Matt Taibbi: Courts Helping Banks Screw Over Homeowners (shameful, disgusting, unconscionable--read at your own risk!)

Lamar Odom Seeks Tax Deduction for NBA Fines and Fitness Fees (Forbes Magazine)

The Perfect Stimulus: Bad Management (Scott Adams, Dilbert creator, on how American management stimulates entrepreneurship)

Pay Dirt Why Do Wall Street Bankers Get Paid So Much? (Raj Date, adviser for the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and president of Cambridge Winter Center)

Who Really Rescued General Motors? (Malcolm Gladwell, New Yorker--short and interesting)

Chicago Lawyer Pleads Guilty in Tax-Shelter Fraud That Brought Firm Down (never forget that you serve more than your client's interests)

One Nation Under Fraud (The Daily Caller on the foreclosure crisis -- very good)

The New Tax Man: Big Banks and Hedge Funds (this is an unbelievable, infuriating story)

Obscene Tax Break Survives Again (Matt Taibbi on the "carried interest" controversy -- warning spicy language)

Nevada Goes Bust (a very sobering article by Sasha Abramsky in The Nation)

Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds (Michael Lewis, author of Liar's Poker, in Vanity Fair). This is what can happen to a society when everyone is looking out only for himself and is unwilling to share in the burden of paying for the common good. Many people talk about patriotism, but those who really love their country are willing to pay taxes, educate everyone's children, and help shoulder the burden of providing for the common good.

Animated (cartoon) feature, Crisis of Capitalism (the animation is really fascinating and the message is quite interesting--we don't often consider critiques of capitalism any more. Perhaps we should pay more attention)

How to Make an American Job Before it's too Late (Andy Grove, retired CEO of Intel, argues that the number one concern of government is job creation for its citizens and points to the long-term costs in terms of innovation from outsourcing U.S. jobs)

Trading in Hubris: Pride, Overreach, and the Inevitable Blowback and Consequences (interesting comment on the self-focused world of investment bankers)

The Insanity in North Dakota (Tax Analysts commentary on the irrationality of tax protestors. Example: Which is true, that "in a free society, taxes should never burden the people," or that "freedom isn't free?")

What Explains the Growing Gap in Wages? ("Only some people are coming out of college with the high-level abstract reasoning skills that fully complement the new information technologies and command high salaries. Workers with "midlevel" skills, by contrast, are more likely to see their tasks simply replaced by computers...")

Why Income Inequality Matters (Charles Wheelan, the Naked Economist)

See also "High Income Disparity Leads to Low Savings Rates" from (another reason that some people are concerned about income disparity)

Does Business Really Want Low Tax Rates? (short blog post on Tax Policy Center blog)

If, When, How? A Primer on Fiscal Stimulus (Elmendorf, Furman -- with Congress and the administration talking about a $150 billion stimulus package, now is a good time to consider how effective such efforts have been historically)

Debtor Nation (Harvard Magazine article on the rising risks of our country's fiscal irresponsibility)

The Secrets of Intangible Wealth (Reason article on the importance of the rule of law, and education, for all nations)

The Most Praised Generation Goes to Work (WSJ article on need for praise in the workplace)

The Tyranny of the Market (Joel Waldfogel on the market's blind eye, from Slate magazine)

Tax Cuts Spur the Alpaca Market (WSJ article on the sometimes irrational manner in which people respond to tax incentives)

Deep in Debt, Deeper in Denial (short commentary on "Maxed Out," an upcoming documentary on predatory lenders -- sounds good)

Saving Our Nation's Future (David Walker, Comptroller General of the United States)

Rude to the Receptionist? Too Bad, You Just Blew the Interview (read before you go on that office visit -- and keep it in mind once you've got the job)

Summary of Major Tax Legislation 1981-2006

State Individual Income Tax Progressivity (research article comparing state income tax systems)

The Simple Return: Reducing America's Tax Burden Through Return-free Filing

Options for Reforming the Estate Tax

Taxing Capital Income Once

If You Think Taxes are a Pain Now ...

Taxing the Future: Fiscal Policy in the Bush Administration (book) -- order here




Other Tax Links -- Links to Revenue Procedures, Revenue Rulings, Tax Forms, and more.

Statistical Abstract of the United States -- collection of statistics on social and economic conditions in the U.S.

Consumer Price Index -- price change data (current and historical).

Compare Cities -- how would relocation affect your standard of living?

Best Places to Live -- compare crime rates, education, health, climate, etc. across cities.