Carlton Smith

Lecturer on Law

Spring 2019


Carl Smith is Lecturer in Law and Acting Director of the Harvard Federal Tax Clinic from January to June 2019, while Prof. Keith Fogg (the clinic’s regular Director) is on sabbatical. From 2003 to 2013, Smith was the director of the Cardozo Tax Clinic at Cardozo School of Law in Manhattan. His work there on behalf of low-income taxpayers, both clients of the clinic and others, earned him the 2013 American Bar Association’s Janet Spragens Pro Bono Award.

Smith’s primary specialty is tax procedure, and he has an unusual interest in constitutional issues that may impact those procedures. He is primarily known for writing on and litigating issues involving the U.S. Tax Court’s “innocent spouse” and “Collection Due Process” jurisdictions. Over the years, he has been counsel of record in over 300 Tax Court cases. He has litigated or been amicus in over 20 federal court of appeals tax cases, several as a volunteer with the Harvard Federal Tax Clinic, where he or students did the oral argument. He has volunteered with the Harvard Federal Tax Clinic since its inception in 2015. Smith’s personal amicus brief in Mayo Foundation v. United States, 562 U.S. 44, 56 (2011), was cited in the Chief Justice’s opinion and led to the overruling of several existing precedents involving the standard of review of tax regulations.

After graduating Harvard College (in 1978) and Law School (in 1981), Smith clerked for Hon. Arthur L. Nims, III at the Tax Court. From there, he became a tax controversy lawyer at Roberts & Holland LLP in Manhattan, where he was first an associate, then a partner. His clients included real estate families, garment industry companies, art dealers, insurance companies, banks, and even a few famous rock stars. In 2000, he worked briefly as a line attorney in the IRS National Office of Chief Counsel. In 2003, he began working exclusively at Cardozo, representing low-income taxpayers. While at Cardozo, he also taught a course in tax procedure, as an Adjunct Professor (from 2007 to 2010), in the Graduate Tax Program at New York University School of Law.

He has published many provocative articles over the year, including “Let the Poor Sue for a Refund Without Full Payment”, 125 Tax Notes 131 (Oct. 5, 2009); “Does Collections Due Process Violate the Appointments Clause?”, 126 Tax Notes 777 (Feb. 8, 2010); and “Equitably Tolling Innocent Spouse and Collection Due Process Periods”, 126 Tax Notes 1106 (Mar. 1, 2010).

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