Jeff Tate came to Columbia Law School to study tax law with two degrees in accounting already in hand.
“Many people think tax is just filling out your 1040 on April 14,” Jeff said.
“But with a little bit of knowledge, you can come up with creative solutions to save your client money.”
Because tax law is constantly changing, and because new transaction structures continue to evolve, Jeff said there is often no clear guidance on a specific issue. Tax lawyers must creatively analyze and give opinions on novel issues of law, and also often work to convince the IRS and the courts that their tax treatment of a given transaction is correct.
As an undergraduate, Jeff thought he might become an auditor, but soon realized that a career in tax better suited him: “The tax savings often more than pay for your fee, so your client is going to be happy. You get to be the good guy.”
Jeff’s interest in pursuing more complex tax problems ultimately drew him to law school. To attend Columbia, he moved his wife and their two-year-old son from Salt Lake City, Utah, where Jeff grew up and studied at Brigham Young University. “We really enjoy New York City’s urban environment,” he said.
He and his wife have since welcomed two more sons into their home in Morningside Heights, and have enjoyed bringing their children to local parks, Columbia family fairs, and Law School trick-or-treating at Halloween. “The community that we’ve experienced here has been remarkable,” Jeff said.
The Tates will move this summer to Washington, D.C., where Jeff will be a tax associate at Shearman & Sterling. Tax law, he said, offers “a lot of interesting and challenging work for a young associate.”