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Curriculum – Master of Science in Taxation

Foster’s Master of Science in Taxation program offers broad training suitable for a career in public accounting. Students develop strategic thinking skills and learn to use tax law to optimize tax planning and compliance in a variety of areas.

Crystal Finkelstein in the classroom

One of the missions of the Foster’s MST curriculum is to provide a deep foundational knowledge of tax laws coupled with effective communication and analytic skills used to analyze and solve complex tax issues.
Crystal FinkelsteinDirector of MST Program & Associate Teaching Professor of Accounting
Program Overview

Start date: September 28, 2022
Program duration: September through June.
Typical class size: 35 – 45
The MST Program consists of 14 classes (for a total of 51 credits) offered over the three-quarter academic year.

Courses At-a-glanceAutumn

Tax Issues in Property Ownership
Procedural and Policy Issues
Fundamentals of Corporate Taxation
Tax Research and Decision Making

Courses At-a-glanceWinter

Timing and Periods of Taxation
Advanced Issues in Corporate Taxation
Income Taxation of Conduits I
Ethics and Communications for Tax
State and Local Tax Issues

Courses At-a-glanceSpring

Tax Provisions
Income Taxation of Conduits II
Communications for Taxation Professionals II
Speaker Forum-Tax
International and State Tax Issues

Autumn Quarter

Tax Issues in Property

This course focuses on the analysis of gain and loss realization, recognition, and characterization of such, and offers a detailed exploration of statutory and case law regarding acquisition, ownership, and disposition of assets. Additionally, students will learn about the treatment of capital and ordinary gains and losses and analysis of timing issues regarding deferral transactions and installment reporting.

Procedural and Policy Issues

This course addresses tax issues you will face in your career that go beyond the four corners of a tax return. Federal tax procedure is a minefield that unwary practitioners take for granted, which can lead to devastating results for you and your clients. We will analyze the tax assessment, audit, and collection processes along with the statute of limitations, penalty, and criminal issues. Your good advice will likely make your clients happy, but will largely go unnoticed. After all, clients expect good advice from their tax professional. However, your bad advice (and sometimes your lack of advice) can result in penalties against you and your client, malpractice suits, sanctions from the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility (including losing the right to prepare returns), sanctions from the state board of accountancy (including losing your license), and, at worst, prison. At the end of this course, you should be able to recognize and navigate the procedural pitfalls that come with being a tax professional.

Fundamentals of Corporate Taxation

This course offers a detailed analysis of the contribution of assets to corporations, calculation of recognized gains and basic effects of asset contributions, and the treatment of income and deduction items in corporate operations. This course also covers the analysis of the distribution of assets to shareholders with respect to their stock.

Tax Research and Decision Making

Students will explore the different types of tax law and guidance as they learn to research tax issues using Bloomberg Tax and Checkpoint.  Through writing case briefs and internal memos, students will communicate technical tax concepts and relative risk levels that they find in their research. A final project which ties in the Procedure and Policy class requires students to defend a client’s real tax position in a mock IRS appeals conference.

Winter Quarter

Timing and Periods of Taxation

Students will analyze the appropriate taxable periods in which to recognize income and deductions utilizing both the cash and accrual methods of accounting detailed in the Internal Revenue Code, including transactions that occur across multiple taxable periods. As an introduction to the financial reporting of income taxes, students will also compare the tax legislative rules regarding timing and periods of taxation with the guidance enumerated in Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Students will explore these concepts through a case study mimicking a real-world scenario, in which they will convert a GAAP trial balance to a tax basis trial balance.
Prerequisite: undergraduate accounting concentration or equivalent.

Advanced Issues in Corporate Taxation

This course explores the fundamentals of moving assets out of and within a corporate solution. Students will learn the basics of corporate reorganizations: acquisitive and divisive. Additionally, the course explores the details of the election to obtain (or avoid) the Section 338 election.

Income Taxation of Conduits I

This course covers tax consequences to owners and entities from formation, operation, distributions from, and liquidation of partnerships and S corporations. Students will learn about taxable and tax-free formations, nature of “bottom line” income and separately stated items, changes to owners’ tax basis, basics of non-liquidating and liquidating distributions.

Ethics and Communications for Taxation Professionals

This course focuses on client communication and ethical issues for tax professionals. Students will receive hands-on experience with communicating tax issues to clients by volunteering at the UW VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) tax site. In preparation for the site, students will practice explaining tax rules to clients through individual presentations and client memos.

State and Local Tax Issues

This class focuses on state and local tax issues such as multi-state tax treaties, sales taxes, nexus, taxes on gross receipts, and apportionment.

Spring Quarter

Tax Provisions

If accounting is the language of business, income tax accounting is the language of taxation. Students will learn how to communicate the impact of good tax planning through the medium of the income tax provision, including the fundamentals of current and deferred taxes, the effective tax rate, valuation allowances, uncertain tax positions, and the distinction between errors and changes in estimates. Students will also be exposed to more advanced topics such as intraperiod tax allocations, business combinations, interim reporting, “outside” basis differences, and reporting for global consolidations.

Income Taxation of Conduits II

This course examines the complex issues in partnership and S corporation taxation. A substantial portion of the course involves resolving case studies to improve analytic skills and interrelate partnership and S corporation planning issues. Students will also examine Sections 751(b) and 736 in detail.

Communications for Taxation Professionals II

During the first few weeks of spring quarter, students complete their volunteer tax site work before returning to the classroom to hone skills such as client letters, technology storytelling and basic programming.

Speaker Forum-Tax

This course covers topics such as state and local taxation, international taxation, interperiod tax allocation, qualified and nonqualified stock options, the R&D credit, and IRS audit issues presented by practicing professionals in the industry.

International and State Tax Issues

This course covers international tax concepts including the foreign tax credit, international tax ownership structures, permanent establishments, income sourcing rules, and international tax treaties.