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Edward McCaffery
USC Gould School of Law

Edward McCaffery

Robert C. Packard Trustee Chair in Law and Professor of Law, Economics and Political Science

Telephone: (213) 740-2567
699 Exposition Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90089-0074 USA Room: 420
SSRN Author Page: Link

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Last Updated: December 16, 2022

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An internationally recognized expert in tax law, Edward McCaffery studies tax policy, tax structures, public finance theory including behavioral public finance, as well as property law and theory, intellectual property, and law and economics. He teaches Federal Income Taxation, Property, Intellectual Property, and Tax Law and Policy at USC.

McCaffery also teaches Corporate Taxation, Federal Income Taxation, Partnership Taxation, Property and a Tax Policy seminar.

McCaffery's scholarship has been widely cited by economists, government officials, journalists and policy analysts.  Among his publications are his recent books, Behavioral Public Finance (which McCaffery co-edited); Fair Not Flat:  How to Make the Tax System Better and Simpler, which proposes a tax system based on taxing spending rather than income; and Taxing Women, which examines how working women suffer under current tax laws. Other publications include Rethinking the Vote: The Politics and Prospects of American Election Reform, which he co-edited. Another book, A New Understanding of Property, will be published later this year. 

In an effort to reach a wider audience to explain basic concepts of tax and public finance, McCaffery created the People’s Tax Page and a series of animated cartoons featuring Sabrina the Unicorn.

McCaffery is a frequent commentator on a variety of tax issues in the news. To read his pieces that have been posted on CNN and The Huffington Post, please click on the links below:


Huffington Post

Recent commentary:

As America files its taxes, Trump's only worry is disclosure

On taxes, Ocasio-Cortez has the right impulse but the wrong remedy

Yes, Democrats can demand Trump's tax returns, but they should do more

In Trump and Kushner's world, other people pay taxes


His other writings include "Cognitive Theory and Tax," "Framing the Jury: Cognitive Perspectives on Pain and Suffering Awards" (with Daniel Kahneman and Matthew Spitzer), and "Slouching Towards Equality: Gender Discrimination, Market Efficiency, and Social Change."  Dean McCaffery has served as an official consultant to the Russian Federation to help design a comprehensive tax code.  Prior to joining the USC faculty, Professor McCaffery practiced law with a San Francisco law firm.

A summa cum laude graduate of Yale University, Professor McCaffery received his J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and a master's degree in economics from USC.  He served as a clerk to Chief Justice Robert N. Wilentz of the New Jersey Supreme Court and was an attorney with Titchell, Maltman, Mark, Bass, Ohleyer & Mishell before joining the USC Law faculty in 1989.  He held the Maurice Jones, Jr., Professorship in Law from 1998 to 2004 and has served as a visiting professor of law and economics at the California Institute of Technology since 1994.  He has chaired the USC Institute on Federal Taxation since 1997, and he found the USC-Caltech Center for the Study of Law and Politics and served as its director from 2000 to 2003.  He is an elected fellow of the American Law Institute (ALI) and the American College of Tax Counsel.  Professor McCaffery also is counsel to the Los Angeles office of Seyfarth Shaw LLP.

Works in Progress

  • "Explorations in the Theory of Optimal Consumption taxes," with James R. Hines, Jr., work in progress.


  • Fiscal Confusion: How Citizens Misunderstand Tax and Spending Programs, and Why it Matters, with Jon Baron (in progress).
  • A New Ownership Society (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming).
  • The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law.  Income Tax Law:  Exploring the Capital-Labor Divide (Oxford University Press, 2012). - (www)
  • Behavioral Public Finance, co-editor, with Joel Slemrod (Russell Sage Press, 2006). - (www)
  • Rethinking the Vote: The Politics and Prospects of American Election Reform (edited with Ann N. Crigler and Marion R. Just) (Oxford University Press, 2004). - (www)
  • Fair Not Flat: How to Make the Tax System Better and Simpler (University of Chicago Press, 2002). - (www)
  • Taxing Women (1997) (Paperback edition with new preface, University of Chicago Press, 1999). - (www)

Articles and Book Chapters

  • “Taxing Wealth Seriously.” 70 Tax Law Review 305–376 (2017).
      - (SSRN) - (Hein) - (bepress)
  • “Distracted from Distraction by Distraction: Reimagining Estate Tax Reform,” Symposium: Tax Advice for the Second Obama Administration, 40 Pepperdine Law Review 1235 (2013).
  • “A Progressive’s Silver Linings Playbook: Repeal Stepped-Up Basis,” 138 Tax Notes 969 (2013).
  • “What Sports Can Teach Us: Lessons from the Luxury Tax,” 135 Tax Notes 1646 (2012).
  • "Where's the Sex in Fiscal Sociology? Taxation and Gender in Comparative Perspective," in Isaac Martin, Ajay K. Mehrota, and Monica Prasad, editors, Taxation in Perspective; Comparative and Historical Approaches to Fiscal Sociology, under submission. - (SSRN)
  • "Commentary on David Weisbach: Consumption Tax Implementation Methods," in Essays in Honor of David Bradford (Alan Auerbach and Daniel Shaviro, eds.) (forthcoming MIT Press). - (SSRN)
  • "Starving the Beast: The Psychology of Budget Deficits," with Jon Baron, in Fiscal Challenges: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Budget Policy (Elizabeth Garrett, Elizabeth Graddy and Howell Jackson, eds.) (MIT Press, 2009). - (SSRN)
  • "Sex Differences in the Acceptability of Discrimination" (with Timur Kuran) Political Research Quarterly (2008). - (SSRN)
  • "Behavioral Economics and Fundamental Tax Reform," in Fundamental Tax Reform: Issue, Choices, and Implications (John W. Diamond and George R. Zodrow, eds.) (MIT Press, 2008). - (SSRN)
  • "The Uneasy Case for Capital Taxation," in Taxation, Economic Prosperity, and Distributive Justice (Ellen Frankel Paul, Fred D. Miller, Jr., and Jeffrey Paul, eds.) (Cambridge University Press, 2006). - (SSRN)
  • "Toward an Agenda for Behavioral Public Finance," with Joel Slemrod, in Behavioral Public Finance (McCaffery and Slemrod, eds.) (Russell Sage Press, 2006). - (SSRN)
  • "Isolation Effects in Action: Uncovering Hidden Taxes" (with Jon Baron). 19 Journal of Behavioral Decision Making 1-14 (2006).
  • "Isolation Effects in Action: Uncovering Hidden Taxes" (with Jon Baron). 19 Journal of Behavioral Decision Making 1-14 (2006).
  • "The Uneasy Case for Capital Taxation." 23 Social Philosophy and Policy 166-14 (Summer 2006). - (SSRN)
  • "Shakedown at Gucci Gulch: The New Logic of Collective Action" (with Linda Cohen). 84 North Carolina Law Review 1159-1252 (2006). - (Hein)
  • "Thinking about Tax" (with Jon Baron). 12 Psychology, Public Policy & Law 106 (2006). - (SSRN)
  • "Masking Redistribution (and its Absence)," with Jon Baron, in Behavioral Public Finance (McCaffery and Joel Slemrod, eds.) (Russell Sage Press, 2006). - (SSRN)
  • "Three Views of Tax." 18 Canadian Journal of Law & Jurisprudence 153 (2005) (Special issue on tax, Edward J. McCaffery, guest editor). - (Hein)
  • "The Political Psychology of Redistirbution" (with Jon Baron). 52 UCLA Law Review 1745-1792 (2005). - (Hein)


Annenberg Media
September 19, 2023
Re: Thomas Lenz

Thomas Lenz was quoted by Annenberg Media about the United Automobile Workers union ready to go on strike. "Strikes affect the livelihoods of those who choose to stop working. To the extent those persons aren’t earning money to spend that means stores, restaurants, and other businesses might not be as busy. If a strike lasts a long time bills might not get paid as easily, if at all," Lenz wrote.


Mugambi Jouet
August, 2023

“Guns, Mass Incarceration, and Bipartisan Reform: Beyond Vicious Circle and Social Polarization,” 55 Arizona State Law Journal 239 (2023).

Edward McCaffery
August, 2023

"The Curiouser and Curiouser Case of Carried Interest" (with Darryll K. Jones), Arizona Law Review (Spring 2024).

Scott Altman
August, 2023

"Are Parents Fiduciaries," 42 Law and Philosophy 431 (2023).