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Robin Morgan
S.J.D. 2022

rmorgan at


Creating a Coherent Legal Framework for the Taxation of Financial Instruments

One of the overarching goals of many tax systems, including that of the current income tax of the United States, is to effectively tax capital – yet the system fails to do so consistently. My research imports and cross-applies lessons from tax law, public economics, and corporate finance in order to develop models of capital asset-related tax avoidance which more closely reflect reality. In doing so, novel academic approaches and policy lessons can be derived. This dissertation is a series of three papers. The first paper traces the historical development of the capital gains preference to the Revenue Act of 1921, determining the reasons behind its enaction and whether it was ultimately successful. The second develops a deterministic threshold model of systemic noncompliance to show the necessity of semi-frequent legislative reform and targeted litigation to harness more targeted network effects to maximize welfare. Finally, the third examines the underlying mathematical structure of the IRC’s taxation of financial instruments, developing an Arrow-like impossibility matrix for debt, equity, and derivatives.

Fields of Research and Supervisors

  • Taxation with Professor Thomas Brennan, Harvard Law School, Principal Faculty Supervisor
  • Public Law & Economics with Professor Louis Kaplow, Harvard Law School
  • Corporate Finance with Professor Holger Spamann, Harvard Law School

Additional Research Interests

  • Financial mathematics
  • Law and economics
  • Law and psychology
  • Constitutional law


  • Harvard Law School, S.J.D. Candidate 2017-2022
  • Harvard Law School, LL.M. Program, 2016-2017 (requirements fulfilled, degree waived)
  • McGill University, Canada, B.C.L/LL.B. 2016

Academic Appointments and Fellowships

  • Harvard Law School, 2017-2021, Graduate Program Fellow, LL.M. Advisor
  • Harvard Law School, 2017-2020, Graduate Program Fellow, Legal Research, Writing, and Analysis Teaching Assistant

Representative Publications

  • Fixing Tax’s Fixed Income Fictions, co-authored with Professor Thomas Brennan [Expected Publication Spring 2021].
  • One Hundred Years of Capital Gains: the Reason Behind and Questionable Early Effectiveness of the Capital Gains Preference [Expected Publication Spring 2021].
  • A. de Mestral and R. Morgan, “Remedies under Canadian Law Equivalent to NAFTA Chapter 11 Arbitration in Canada” in Second Thoughts: Investor State Arbitration between Developed Democracies, A. de Mestral, ed (2017 CIGI, Ottawa), ch 5.
  • R. Morgan, “Multiculturailsm, Dialogue, and Canada” CTLibre 2013.

Additional Information

Languages: English, French, Romanian and Spanish (working knowledge)

Last Updated: December 3, 2020