William B. Barker

William B. Barker

Distinguished Professor of Law
Polisher Family Faculty Scholar

Email: wbb3@psu.edu
Phone: 717-240-5263
SSRN Profile

J.D., B.A., State University of New York at Buffalo

Barker on Teaching and Scholarship

I am fascinated with how taxation affects everyones lives and how it can be a tool of development or of oppression. Income taxation is the primary way democratic societies allocate the financial burden of government to its people. As law, its ever-present form or superstructure has implications for a broad spectrum of human activity. It is a dominant aspect of nontax business and investment law areas like real estate, corporate mergers, corporate finance, international business transactions, oil and gas, trusts and estates, sports and entertainment law, patents and copyrights, nonprofit organizations, and employment, as well as many personal areas such as birth and death, marriage and divorce, charity, education, and leisure. Few laws have the force that income taxation has to reach into our private lives and alter our behavior and even our life choices.

I have dedicated my teaching and research to the area of income taxation and specifically to the study of international and comparative tax law. My research reflects a strong normative approach that emphasizes the role that tax avoidance and important social values have in the development of tax law in societies adopting free market, democratic systems in developed, emerging and traditional economies.

I have been quite fortunate in having received three Fulbright grants, an Australian ATAX Fellowship, and a Senior Research Fellowship at the University of London that have enabled me to pursue my goals. I have been a member of the faculties of the London School of Economics and Political Science, Trinity College Dublin, and the Universities of Oxford, Vienna, Cape Town, Witwatersrand and Free State, New South Wales, Queensland and Latvia. These cross-cultural experiences have forced me to continuously reevaluate my research and conclusions.

I believe that to gain insight into the fundamental nature of foreign systems one should, in a sense, go native, that is immerse oneself in the social and legal framework of the other nation. I have had the unusual experience of having taught basic and advanced courses on the tax law of other nations in the United Kingdom, South Africa and the European Union. These experiences, combined with practical insights gained from my work prior to coming to the Law School—where I handled trial and appellate cases for the Tax Division of the United States Department of Justice and served as law clerk to the Honorable Marion Bennett of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit—ground my teaching and scholarship.

Barker's Publications

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017: The SALT Deduction, Tax Competition, and Double Taxation, 56 San Diego L. Rev. _____ (2019).

The Disconnect Between Tax Concepts and the World of Fact: State Law as the Gatekeeper, 57 Washburn L.J. 129 (2018).

The Ideology of Tax Avoidance 387 in Rutledge’s Companion to Tax Avoidance (Rutledge pub scheduled Fall 2017).

Concorrencia Tributaria Interestadual Como Reflexo da Concorrencia Tributeia International 139, in ESTADO FEDERALE TRIBUTACAO DAS ORIGENS A CRISE ATUAL II (Arraes, December 2015) (A copy is in our library) (42, 300 word pages).

A Comparative Study of Peer Review in Tax Research: Selection and Qualification of Referees, in Peer Review of Scientific Publications in Taz Law (IBFD, publication pending).

A Common Sense Corporate Tax: The Case for a Destination-Based, Cash Flow Tax on Corporations,” 61 Catholic U. L. Rev. 955 (2012). ​

International Tax reform Should Begin at Home: Replace the Corporate Income Tax with a Territorial Expenditure Tax, 30 N.W. J. Int’l L & Bus. 647 (2010) Northwestern Law School Symposium, International Tax Reform in a Reset Economy). The article was reviewed in Ronald J. Jensen, Notable Corporate Tax Articles in 2010, 130 Tax Notes, 1570 (March 28, 2011). 

“The U.S. Approach to Separation of Powers in Tax Matters,” in Taxation and Separation of Powers (Ana Paula Dourado, ed. IBFD 2010). 

“Tax Reform in the (Inter)National Interest: Why Wait?,” 124 Tax Notes 828 (August 24, 2009). 

“The Ideology of Tax Avoidance,” 39 U. Loy. Chi. L. Rev. 229 (2009).

“An International Tax System for Emerging Economies, Tax Sparing and Development: It Is All About Source,” 29 U. Penn. J. Int'l L. 349 (2007). 

The Concept of Tax (edited by William Barker & Bruno Peeters, IBFD 2007). 

“A Normative Approach to the Concept of Tax,” in The Concept of Tax 21 (IBFD 2007). 

“The Three Faces of Equality: Constitutional Requirements in Taxation,” 57 Case W. Res. L. Rev. 1 (2006); republished in 2007-2 Diritto E Practica Tributaria Internationale 405 (Univ. of Turin). 

Expanding the Study of Comparative Tax Law to Promote Democratic Policy: The Example of the Move to Capital Gains Taxation in Post-Apartheid South Africa,” 109 Penn St. L. Rev. 703 (2005). 

Statutory Interpretation, Comparative Law, and Economic Theory: Discovering the Grund of Income Taxation,” 40 San Diego L. Rev. 821 (2003). 

Optimal International Taxation and Tax Competition: Overcoming the Contradictions,” 22 Nw. J. Int'l L. & Bus. 161 (2002). 

“A Comparative Approach to Income Tax Law in the United Kingdom and the United States,” 46 Cath. L. Rev. 7 (1996). 

International Tax reform Should Begin at Home: Replace the Corporate Income Tax with a Territorial Expenditure Tax, 30 N.W. J. Int’l L & Bus. 647 (2010) 

(Northwestern Law School Symposium, International Tax Reform in a Reset Economy). The article was reviewed in Ronald J. Jensen, Notable Corporate 

Tax Articles in 2010, 130 Tax Notes, 1570 (March 28, 2011).