Published: July 13, 2022

Portrait of Professor Amanda ParsonsThis fall, Colorado Law will welcome Amanda Parsons to the faculty as associate professor of law. Most recently an academic fellow and lecturer in law at Columbia Law School, Parsons focuses her research on corporate and international taxation with a particular emphasis on the impact of digitalization on tax law.

She holds a JD from Yale Law School, where she served as projects editor on the Yale Law Journal; a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Oxford, with a focus on evidence-based social intervention; and a bachelor’s in history from Columbia University.

Q: It’s great to speak with you, Prof. Parsons!

Likewise!

Q: These past few years have been unusual for all of us. Now that things are starting to feel a little more “normal,” what are you most looking forward to about the fall semester?

First of all, I am really excited to be in-person in the classroom. I taught virtually for one semester at Columbia, and it was so hard to develop a sense of community in the classroom. So I am especially grateful to be able to have those in-person interactions as I come into a new community. I am also looking forward to being able to travel more. I have family and friends scattered across the world, and I am looking forward to being able to visit more easily. FaceTime just isn't quite the same. 

Q:  What originally got you interested in corporate and international tax law?

I started to like tax law for two reasons. The first is the challenging nature of the tax code. Answering tax questions is like solving a complex puzzle, and it is so satisfying when you get to the answer. The second is that tax law is an inherently social subject.

Q:  How interesting! To be honest, “social” isn’t the first word that comes to mind when I think of taxes. Could you say some more about that?

Of course! Designing a system of taxation and redistribution implicates all these questions of equity in society, and so many of our public policies are implemented via the tax code. I found the subject fascinating when I first studied it at law school. When I went into practice after graduation, corporate and international taxation were major areas that the large firms advised on. As I started to learn more about international tax in particular, I began to think a lot about the implications of our current international tax policies and the outcomes those policies were creating, particularly in the context of the digital economy. The build-up of those questions fueled my move into academia. 

Q: That makes a lot of sense. So, is it safe to say your earlier studies in social policy and evidence-based interventions have intersected or perhaps influenced your legal scholarship?

Because so many of our social policies are implemented via the tax code, there is definitely some overlap between my study at Oxford and my current work. My degree course at Oxford also involved a lot of statistical and empirical work. Because a lot of tax scholarship is empirically driven, that training has been helpful in allowing me to engage with that scholarship. 

Q: Can you share a bit about some of your current projects?

I've recently become interested in the taxation of cryptocurrency. I just finished a short article discussing how cryptocurrency presents a challenge of legibility—to govern an activity, we must first be able to understand and categorize it, and cryptocurrency is defying categorization. I am starting to build that argument out into a larger piece. 

Q: I look forward to learning more! So, one last question for you… How are you feeling about trading Manhattan for Boulder?

It has definitely been a big shift! I moved a little over a month ago, and the things I find that I miss most about Manhattan are walking through the city and the parks and playgrounds. In Morningside Heights we were so lucky to be right next to three wonderful parks—Riverside, Morningside, and Central Park—and I spent a lot of time there with my toddler. But Boulder seems great so far, and I still have a lot to explore. I have a view of the Flatirons from my home, which is lovely and such a contrast to the city. I also have a car again for the first time since I was 18, which has been very nice!