Pitt Law Faculty Bio Image

Phil Hackney

Associate Professor of Law
Program: MSL

Phil Hackney’s scholarship focuses primarily on the law that governs the nonprofit tax-exempt sector of our economy such as charities, social welfare organizations, labor unions, and trade associations. Professor Hackney studies the impact of the Internal Revenue Code on the operation of these organizations that provide vital services to our most vulnerable through charity, engage in political activity through interest groups, manage a large percentage of the provision of health care, and deliver much of our education. Professor Hackney believes that a better understanding of nonprofits will provide insight into how to design the income tax and state law rules to better serve these purposes.

Professor Hackney employs philosophy, history, and social science literature to build a normative case for the proper legal treatment of nonprofits. The importance of democratic principles in administering the law and conceiving of the law is a recurring theme of Professor Hackney’s work. His most recent article, “Prop up the Heavenly Chorus? Labor Unions, Tax Policy, and Political Voice Equality,” published in the St. John’s Law Review in 2017 makes the claim that the enhancement or detraction from democratic voice should be considered in designing tax policy. He argues that the current policy of income tax exemption as designed generally works to devalue the political voice of labor. Professor Hackney also examines how the IRS regulates, or should regulate, nonprofit organizations.

In addition to his scholarly work, Professor Hackney writes op-eds that have been published in places such as the Washington Post, The New Republic, and Salon. He is also frequently quoted in the press as a national expert on nonprofit organizations. He is one of the founding members of a blog on tax law authored by top tax professors called the Surly Subgroup. You can follow him on Twitter @EOTaxProf where Forbes has recognized him as one of the top 100 accounts to follow on matters of tax.

Professor Hackney is deeply engaged in law reform efforts. He served as a member of the Advisory Committee to the Independent Sector to update its Ethics and Principles of Good Governance for Nonprofit Organizations in 2014. In Louisiana, he served as a member of the Louisiana Tax Institute, a state board created to aid the state in improving its tax system. He also served as a member of the corporations committee of the Louisiana Law Institute to revise the limited liability company statute of Louisiana. He is an author of a treatise on limited liability companies in Louisiana.

Professor Hackney previously served as a member of the faculty of the LSU Law Center. Before the academy, Professor Hackney spent five years at the Office of the Chief Counsel of the IRS in Washington, D.C. There, he drafted IRS regulations, advised the TEGE commissioner, and litigated exempt organization tax issues. Professor Hackney started his legal career as a law clerk to the late Honorable Henry A. Politz on the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. He joined Baker Botts LLP in Houston in 2002 as a corporate associate working on mergers and acquisitions, securities offerings, public company corporate compliance, and investigations into accounting irregularities. Before law school, he owned and operated a used and rare bookstore and coffee shop in Baton Rouge, Louisiana called Caliban’s Books.