Meet the Faculty: Marin J. McMahon

Published: November 17th, 2003

Category: News Briefs

Clarence J. TeSelle Professor of Law Marty McMahon teaches in the Graduate Tax Program, although no one there is actually willing to admit to hiring him. He used to be the Laramie Leatherman Professor of Law at the University of Kentucky College of Law, but the rumor is that the dean there got so tired of him rescheduling classes to go bass fishing that he told Marty to go someplace where the fishing was better and gave Florida a glowing, if imaginative, recommendation regarding Marty’s teaching credentials.

He is a 1971 graduate of Rutgers College, where he majored in narcolepsy, and a 1974 graduate of Boston College Law School, where he minored in racquetball. While in private practice in New Hampshire from 1974 to 1979, he slept through evening classes as a part time student at Boston University Law School, from which he purchased an LL.M. in Taxation in 1979.

This paper credential fooled the University of Kentucky into thinking that he actually knew something about tax law and enabled him to retire from practice to the gentrified life of being a law professor. While he was at UK, many people — mostly his own colleagues — suggested that he leave and go elsewhere. On several occasions the dean and his faculty colleagues at Kentucky shipped him off elsewhere to teach for a while, and he has visited at the University of Virginia and at Florida. (Amazingly enough, Florida took him back again in 1997!)

To get revenge on his UK colleagues, in the mid-1980s he went to work as a professor-inresidence at the Office of Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service, where he suggested that the entire UK faculty be audited. Because little revenue was raised from the audits of school teachers he suggested, however, he was relegated to tasks like helping to devise the interest tracing rules in Treas. Reg. §1.163-8T.

To satisfy the lust for money of the bursars of multiple universities, thereby keeping his one college- age son and post-college-age-but-perpetualstudent other son mollified, if not cheerful, he moonlights as a book author. He has ridden on Boris Bittker’s coattails by coauthoring three editions of a treatise, Federal Income Taxation of Individuals, with this Titan of Taxation. His law school mentors, Paul McDaniel and Hugh Ault, felt sorry for him and let him coauthor multiple editions of four casebooks on basic income tax, corporate tax, and partnership tax. Although he much prefers writing casebooks (because his students have to buy them, thereby generating royalty income to pay for college tuition and car insurance for those two sons), to get tenure and keep his job he has been forced to write several dozen law review articles about taxation, including one in 1981 that suggested the cockamamy idea of taxing kid’s income at their parents’ rates. (Who’d ever be crazy enough to agree with that notion!) It’s rumored, however, that he really got tenure by jogging two paces behind the dean no matter how slow the pace.

All of those articles that nobody actually reads also appear to have gotten him elected to the ALI, but many people consider it to be a case of mistaken identity. At another conference quite a few years ago, he said something so long winded and confusing that it was mistaken for profundity, causing one of the prominent tax lawyers in attendance to nominate him for fellowship in the American College of Tax Counsel. Since his scant royalties are devoured by college tuition, food allowances for his sons, and car insurance, to see the country he’s willing to go anywhere for a mini-vacation paid for by a CLE sponsor; and over the years he has found a surprising number of suckers to subsidize his thinly disguised vacation travel. (Hush now — don’t tell the IRS.)

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