Alan S. Schenk

Alan S. Schenk

Distinguished Professor of Law


Room 3361
(313) 577-3946

Alan S. Schenk

  • Biography

    Alan Schenk has devoted his academic career to tax law; in particular, he is regarded as an expert on value added taxation (VAT). He is a member of the Michigan bar, the U.S. Tax Court and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a certified public accountant. Schenk received a number of teaching awards from his students, alumni and the university. He received a distinguished faculty award from the Michigan Association of Governing Boards of State Universities. The university appointed him as a distinguished professor in 2011 and he was inducted in the university’s Academy of Scholars in 2019.

    His regular academic appointment includes teaching Federal Income Tax, Business Planning, Accounting for Lawyers, and Consumption-Based Taxes. He served as a professor-in-residence, Office of Chief Counsel, IRS, from 1984-85. Schenk co-taught VAT courses at Harvard and the University of Michigan law schools and the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke. He taught VAT courses at law schools in Canada and Australia, at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and for the Academy of International Taxation in Taipei, Taiwan. He has spoken at conferences or conducted seminars on VAT in the United States, Africa and Asia.

    Schenk has written extensively about U.S. taxation of business and comparative taxation in the field of VAT. He authored or co-authored five books on value added tax, including the co-authored Value Added Tax: A Comparative Approach, 2d edition published by the Cambridge University Press in 2015. This book covers material on VAT from the European Union, Japan, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, Brazil, and other countries.

    Schenk's articles on VAT include several involving the taxation of financial services. "Taxation of Financial Services (Including Insurance) Under a United States Value Added Tax," written for the American Tax Policy Institute conference on Structuring a Federal VAT: Design & Coordination Issues, Feb. 18 & 19, 2009, was published by the Tax Law Review. Another article on financial services, written at the request of the Japan Tax Association, was published in Japanese in 2004.

    Schenk served as reporter for a model VAT statute prepared by the American Bar Association Tax Section VAT committee. In several different sessions of the U.S. Congress, former Sen. Hollings introduced that ABA model to serve as the revenue source to reduce the federal deficit or to fund a national health care system. Schenk testified before the House and Senate tax-writing committees of the U.S. Congress on tax reform and alternative tax systems, including the value-added tax.

    In 2009, Schenk served as a foreign expert on tax reform in the People's Republic of China. Schenk's professional work on value added tax included his service twice as chair of the American Bar Association Section of Taxation Committee on Value Added Tax and Other Consumption Taxes. He served on the editorial board of The VAT Monitor published by the International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation.

    For almost two decades, Schenk served as technical advisor for the International Monetary Fund, drafting and revising sales and value added tax laws for many countries in Africa and the Caribbean, including Anguilla, The Bahamas, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Gambia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. He wrote regulations and directives to implement VAT and explanatory memoranda to help government personnel and the private sector administer and comply with the VATs that he drafted. Schenk served as an expert on value added tax in several international arbitrations.

  • Degrees and Certifications

    LL.M. (Taxation), New York University School of Law
    LL.B., University of Illinois College of Law
    B.S., University of Illinois

  • Courses Taught

    Federal Income Tax
    Business Planning
    Consumption-Based Tax (value added tax)
    Accounting for Lawyers
    Corporate Taxation
    Corporate Reorganizations

  • Selected publications

    What is a Supply for VAT Purposes? Reflections on Qantas Airways Ltd., 26 No. 2  International VAT Monitor (2015).

    Taxation of Financial Services (Including Insurance) Under a U.S. Value-Added Tax, 63 Tax Law Rev. 409 (2010).

    "Worldwide Versus Territorial Tax Systems: Comparison of Value Added Tax and Income Tax," Value Added Tax and Direct Taxation: Similarities and Differences, M. Lang, P. Melz, & E. Kristoffersson, International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation, Amsterdam (2009).

    Italy’s IRAP: An Analysis from Across the Atlantic, International VAT Monitor, upcoming August, 2006.

    Consumption Taxation and Financial Services: Departure From the European Approach, published in Japanese language in 2004, 2 Tax Research 116, published by the Japan Tax Association, February 2004.

    "Financial Services and the Value-Added Tax," ch. 5 of Howell H. Zee, Ed., Taxing the Financial Sector: Concepts, Issues and Practices (IMF 2004), edited version of article with Mr. Zee listed under articles

    "Consumption Taxation and Financial Services: Relevance of Foreign VATs for U.S. Businesses," U.S. branch reporter for 57th Congress of the International Fiscal Association, Sydney, Australia, August/ September 2003.

    Treating Financial Services Under a Value-Added Tax: Conceptual Issues and Country Practices (with economist Howell Zee) (22 Tax Notes Int’l 3309 (June 25, 2001).

    Radical Tax Reform for the 21st Century: The Role for a Consumption Tax, 2 Chapman University Law Review (Spring, 1999).

    A Federal Move to a Consumption-Based Tax: Implications for State and Local Taxation and Insights from the Canadian Experience, 3 The State and Local Tax Lawyer 89 (1998).

    The Plethora of Consumption Tax Proposals: Putting the Value Added Tax, Flat Tax, Retail Sales Tax, and USA Tax into Perspective, 33 Univ. San Diego Law Review 1581 (1996).

    Japanese Consumption Tax After Six Years: A Unique VAT Matures, 69 Tax Notes 899 (Nov. 13, 1995), reprinted in 11 Tax Notes Int'l 1379 (Nov. 20, 1995).

    VAT Debate Stimulated by Tax Reform Hearings in the United States, 6 VAT Monitor 204 (July/Aug. 1995).

    The Business Activities Tax: Have Senators Danforth & Boren Created a Better Value Added Tax? (with Oldman), 65 Tax Notes 1547 (1994). Reprinted in 10 Tax Notes Int'l. 55 (Jan. 2, 1995).

    Taxation of Financial Services Under a Value Added Tax: A Critique of the Treatment Abroad and the Proposals in the United States, 9 Tax Notes Int'l. 823 (Sept. 12, 1994). Reprinted in 8 The Insurance Tax Review 1717 (Dec. 1994).

    Choosing the Form of a Federal Value-Added Tax: Implications for State and Local Retail Sales Taxes, 22 Capital University Law Review 291 (1993).

    Administrative Costs of a U.S. Value-Added Tax: A Description and Analysis of the Report of the United States General Accounting Office, VAT Monitor, Aug/Sept 1993.

    Recent Activity in the United States Involving Value Added Tax, VAT Monitor, Aug/Sept 1992, p. 2.

    A Model Value Added Tax Statute for the United States, VAT Monitor, September, 1990, p. 2.

    Policy Issues in the Design of a Value-Added Tax: Some Recent Developments in OECD Countries, 1 Tax Notes Int'l. 111 (July, 1989).

    Japanese Consumption Tax: The Japanese Brand VAT, 42 Tax Notes 1625 (1989).

    Reporter, "Model Value Added Tasx Statute and Commentary," American Bar Association (February, 1989). (This bill was introduced by Senator Hollings: S. 237-- Deficit and Debt Reduction and Health Care Financing Act of 1995; S. 169-- Deficit and Debt Reduction Act of 1991).

    The Canadian White Paper on Sales Tax Reform and the Model Value Added Tax Statute for the United States: A Comparative Analysis, 26 Osgoode Hall Law Journal 629 (1988).

    Value Added Tax: Does This Consumption Tax Have A Place In The Federal Tax Structure, 7 Virginia Tax Review 207 (Fall, 1987).

    The Business Transfer Tax: The Value Added by Subtraction, 30 Tax Notes 351 (1986).

    Shareholders' Voting and Appraisal Rights in Corporate Acquisition Transactions (with S. Schulman), 38 Business Lawyer 1529 (1983), reprinted in substantial part in Herwitz, Business Planning: Materials on the Planning of Corporate Transactions, Temporary Second Edition, 1984, pp. 641-657.

    The Value Added Tax as a Replacement for Part of the Corporate Income Tax, 9 Tax Notes 767 (1979).

    The Michigan Single Business Tax: A State Value Added Tax?, 8 Tax Notes 411 (1979), reprinted in 58 Michigan Bar Journal 392 (1979).

    Chapter author, Closely Held Corporations, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education, Springfield, Illinois, chapter 6, 1996 edition, with 1999 supplement (and previous editions dating back to 1971).

  • Social Science Research Network
  • Books

    The VAT Reader: What a Federal Consumption Tax Would Mean for America (Tax Analysts) 2011

    Professor Schenk wrote a chapter in this book called "Prior U.S. Flirtations with VAT."

    Chapters on financial services and gambling in VAT in Africa. (Pretoria University Tax Press) 2008 (edited by R. Krever)

    A book specifically designed for the VAT systems in use on the African continent, these chapters cover industries that typically are hard to tax under a VAT. The chapter suggests ways in which African countries can expand their VAT bases by including some of the value added by these industries. Professor Schenk uses the book in a Value Added Course that he teaches for the African Tax Institute.

    Value Added Tax: A Comparative Approach (Cambridge University Press) co-author late Professor Oliver Oldman of Harvard Law School

    Value Added Tax is an important revenue source in all major industrialized countries except the U.S. and is widely used in developing countries as well. This unique comparative value added tax book provides comprehensive teaching tools – laws, cases, analytical exercises, and questions drawn from the experience of countries and organizations from around the world. It also serves as a resource for tax practitioners and government officials. Professor Schenk incorporated in this text the expertise he developed while drafting value added taxes for developing countries in Africa and the Caribbean.

    Value Added Tax: A Comparative Approach (Cambridge University Press) 2015 second edition, with Victor Thuronyi and Wei Cui

    This book integrates legal, economic, and administrative materials about the value added tax (VAT) to present the only comparative approach to the study of VAT law. The comparative presentation of this volume offers an analysis of policy issues relating to tax structure and tax base as well as insights into how cases arising out of VAT disputes have been resolved. Its principal purpose is to provide comprehensive teaching tools - laws, cases, analytical exercises, and questions drawn from the experience of countries and organizations around the world. This second edition includes new VAT-related developments in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia and adds new chapters on VAT avoidance and evasion and on China's VAT. Designed to illustrate, analyze, and explain the principal theoretical and operating features of value added taxes, including their adoption and implementation, this book will be an invaluable resource for tax practitioners and government officials.

  • Accomplishments
  • Courses taught by Alan S. Schenk

    Spring-Summer Term 2024

    Fall Term 2023

    Spring-Summer Term 2023

    Fall Term 2022

    Spring-Summer Term 2022

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