Prof. Viswanathan teaches doctrinal tax courses and co-teaches the UC Hastings Business Tax Practicum for Social Enterprises. His research focuses on tax policy, economic development, and the regulation of tax-exempt organizations.
Prior to his arrival at UC Hastings, Viswanathan was a clinical teaching fellow and lecturer at Yale Law School, where he co-taught the Community and Economic Development clinic, and worked as a tax associate with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom LLP's New York City office.
He received his LLM and J.D. from New York University School of Law, and undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Areas of Expertise (4)
The Regulation of Tax Exempt Organizations
Judge Rose L. & Herbert Rubin Law Prize (professional)
Awarded for most outstanding note for the NYU Law Review in international, commercial, or public law
1st place, Federal Bar Association Section of Taxation Writing Competition (professional)
1st place, Tannenwald Competition for Excellence in Tax Scholarship (professional)
New York University School of Law: LL.M., Law
New York University School of Law: J.D., Law
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology: S.M., Chemical Engineering
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology: S.B., Chemical Engineering
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology: S.B., Physics
- New York Bar
- United States Tax Court
Media Appearances (8)
Manoj Viswanathan to Join UC Hastings Faculty
UC Hastings College of the Law online
UC Hastings is pleased to announce that Manoj Viswanathan is joining the faculty as an Associate Professor of Law...
How We Tax (letter to the editor)
The New Yorker print
Alec MacGillis, in his article on the billionaire philanthropist David Rubenstein, shows how the carried-interest loophole in tax law has allowed Rubenstein and others to accumulate vast amounts of wealth (“The Billionaires’ Loophole,” March 14th)...
Commentary on California Propositions 55 and 56
UC Hastings online
Commentary on California Propositions 55 and 56.
California Can Preserve State and Local Tax Deduction, Even If Congress Ends It
Sacramento Bee online
If Republicans’ tax overhaul passes next week, California taxpayers are likely to lose many of the state and local deductions that saved them more than $100 billion on their taxes in 2015. But legislative staffers and tax law experts are already gaming out ways to adjust the state’s tax code to offset the loss of those deductions and counter other changes to federal taxes...
New Study Uncovers Secrets In Pending Tax Bill
Whether you love or hate the tax bill soon to receive President Trump’s signature, knowing about its hidden problems and opportunities could play a major role in determining everything from your own personal finances to the outcome of the 2018 elections...
Let The Games Begin: Tax Plan Opens New Opportunities for Taxpayers and State Legislators to Save Key Deductions
Los Angeles Time print
You may never have considered your state government or local school district to be a charity needing your donation, but you might want to start thinking that way if the Republicans follow through on their plans to demolish the traditional federal deduction for state and local taxes...
Our Local Legislators Can Preserve the State and Local Tax Deduction
Daily Post online
Our mid-Peninsula state legislators should step up and repair some of the damage that will be done by the Republican tax bill Congress intends to send to President Trump...
What the New Tax Law Means for Your Holiday Giving
PBS Newshour online
A discussion of how the TCJA could affect how much Americans give as they weigh making end-of-year donations.
Selected Articles (11)
The Hidden Costs of Cliff Effects in the Internal Revenue CodeUniversity of Pennsylvania Law Review
Cliff effects in the Internal Revenue Code trigger a sudden increase of federal tax liability when some attribute of a taxpayer—most commonly income—exceeds a particular threshold value. As a result, two taxpayers in nearly identical economic situations can face considerably different tax liabilities depending on which side of the triggering criterion they fall. The magnitude of the equity and efficiency costs associated with cliff effects is significant: cliff effects are attached to tax provisions amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars, the majority of which are targeted at low- and moderate-income taxpayers...
Form 1023-EZ and the Streamlined Process for the Federal Income Tax Exemption: Is the IRS Slashing Red Tape or Opening Pandora's Box?University of Pennsylvania Law Review Online
On July 1, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Form 1023-EZ, a streamlined version of the application required of all organizations seeking federal tax-exempt status under section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code. By stripping away familiar elements like the narrative of specific activities, financial projections, and provision of organizing documents, Form 1023-EZ requires dramatically less time to complete and represents a radical change to a decades-old process...
Sunset provisions in the tax code: A critical evaluation and prescriptions for the futureNew York University Law Review
In this Note, the author argues that sunset provisions associated with tax legislation are, in their current form, the product of political maneuvering designed to bypass budgetary constraints and are exploited as a means of enacting what is, in reality, permanent legislation...
From Business Tax Theory to PracticeClinical Law Review
(with Alina Ball)
The past decade has seen a dramatic increase in the number of business law clinics in legal academia. This increase in clinical transactional courses has not, however, resulted in a congruent rise in transactional tax clinical offerings. Although tax issues, including federal, state, and local tax matters, are an integral consideration in nearly every business transaction, most business law clinics explicitly exclude tax representation from their client services...
How SALT Deduction Repeal Promotes State Capture of Federal Charitable ContributionsThe Surly Subgroup
The current version of the GOP tax bill dramatically limits the deductibility of state and local taxes. For individuals, the deduction for state and local income taxes is eliminated entirely and the deduction for state and local property taxes is limited to the first $10,000. [fn.1] Though much has been said about the proposal, there has been little discussion about how eliminating the state and local tax deduction dramatically incentivizes (1) states to solicit charitable contributions in exchange for state tax credits and (2) taxpayers to make these charitable contributions.
Tax Compliance in a Decentralizing EconomyGeorgia State law Review
Tax compliance in the United States has long relied on information from centralized intermediaries—the financial institutions,employers, and brokers that help ensure income is reported and taxes are paid. Yet while the IRS remains tied to these centralized entities,consumers and businesses are not. New technologies, such as sharing economy platforms (companies such as Airbnb, Uber, and Instacart)and the blockchain (the platform on which various cryptocurrencies are based) are providing new, decentralized options for exchanging goods and services...
Tax Compliance and the Sharing Economy (book chapter)Cambridge University Press
The Games They Will Play: Tax Games, Roadblocks, and Glitches under the 2017 Tax LegislationMinnesota Law Review
(with David Kamin, David Gamage, Ari Glogower, Rebecca Kysar, Darien Shanske, Reuven Avi-Yonah, Lily Batchelder, J. Clifton Fleming, Daniel Hemel, Mitchell Kane, David Miller, and Daniel Shaviro)
State Responses to Federal Tax Reform: State Charitable Tax CreditsSpecial Report, Tax Notes
(with Joseph Bankman, David Gamage, Jacob Goldin, Daniel Hemel, Darien Shanske, Kirk J. Stark, and Dennis J. Ventry, Jr.)
Several states are considering new tax credits that would reduce tax liability based on donations made by a taxpayer in support of various state programs. In general, taxpayer contributions to qualifying organizations — including public charities and private foundations, as well as federal, state, local, and tribal governments — are eligible for the federal charitable contribution deduction under section 170. In our previous article, we explained how current law supports the view that qualifying charitable contributions are deductible under section 170, even when the donor derives some federal or state tax benefit by making the donation. We referred to this treatment as the “full deduction rule.”...
State Responses to Federal Tax Reform: State Charitable Tax CreditsTax Notes
(with Joseph Bankman, David Gamage, Jacob Goldin, Daniel Hemel, Darien Shanske, Kirk J. Stark, and Dennis J. Ventry, Jr.).
Many states provide tax incentives for charitable giving, typically to encourage private donations to targeted activities, such as natural resource preservation, private school tuition scholarships, college financial aid, shelters for victims of domestic violence, and various other state-supported programs. Under these programs, taxpayers receive state income tax credits for donations to governments, government-created funds, and nonprofits....
Hyperlocal Responses to the SALT Deduction LimitationStanford Law Review Online
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, enacted in December 2017, places a $10,000 limit on the federal deduction for payments of state and local taxes (“SALT”). Several states with high numbers of adversely affected taxpayers have proposed or enacted legislative workarounds to this new cap. Much has been said about these state-level responses, but there has been little analysis of local-level effects or of how local governments could similarly respond. This essay addresses that gap by (1) statistically modeling the number of taxpayers affected by the SALT deduction limitation at a ZIP-code-by-ZIP-code (rather than state-by-state) level, and (2) proposing locality-based strategies relevant to taxpayers throughout the U.S., and not just those living in highly affected states. A hyperlocal analysis provides several key insights. First, although blue states are generally more affected by the SALT deduction limitation, many solidly red states contain high concentrations of affected taxpayers. Focusing on statewide effects masks the extent to which large numbers of affected taxpayers exist in seemingly unaffected areas. Second, although recent SALT workarounds have focused on state income taxes, there is ample opportunity for mitigating the effects of the SALT deduction limitation by focusing instead on property taxes. This would allow cities or counties, rather than states, to implement SALT workarounds tailored to their residents. This is especially relevant for taxpayers in states without a personal income tax. Third, SALT workarounds focusing on property taxes recoup more lost SALT deductions (on a percentage basis) for middle class taxpayers than for the wealthy, possibly giving these workarounds some bipartisan appeal.