John D. Colombo

Research Professor
Albert E. Jenner, Jr. Professor of Law Emeritus


John D. Colombo is the the Albert E. Jenner Jr. Professor of Law Emeritus. He was associate dean of the college from 1995-98, 1999-2000 and 2010-12, acting dean during 1998 and 2001, and interim dean from 2014-15 and in 2002. He also was the Thomas M. Mengler Faculty Scholar from 2004-06.

A member of the Illinois faculty since 1988, Colombo primarily teaches tax law. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and co-author of two books on the theory of tax exemption for charitable organizations, the exemption standards for nonprofit hospitals, and commercial activity by charities—The Charitable Tax Exemption (with Mark A. Hall; Westview Press, 1995) and Charity Care for Nonprofit Hospitals: A Legal and Administrative Guide (with Gerald Griffith and James R. King; Wolters-Kluwer 2009 w/2011 supp.).

Colombo has testified before the House Ways and Means Committee as well as the Oversight subcommittee of Congress, providing overviews of the legal rules for tax exemption under Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code, the rules for exemption of nonprofit hospitals, and issues regarding commercial activity by exempt charities. His work on tax exemption for nonprofit hospitals has been cited by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit and the Illinois Supreme Court.

In 2003, he received the college’s Carroll P. Hurd Award for Excellence in Faculty Scholarship for the article “Commercial Activity and Charitable Tax Exemption,” published in the William & Mary Law Review.

In 2010, his article “The NCAA, Tax-Exemption and College Athletics” received national attention and was part of a presentation to the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.

Colombo has been recognized as a U. of I. College of Law Distinguished Graduate and has received the college’s John E. Cribbet Award for Excellence in Teaching. He also is the recipient of the Campus Award for Excellence in Graduate and Professional Teaching and the Delta Sigma Omicron Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Colombo earned his bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Illinois. He also earned his law degree summa cum laude from Illinois, where he served as notes and comments editor of the Illinois Law Review. After law school, he clerked for Judge Phyllis Kravitch, of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and worked for six years at an Atlanta-based law firm. He is a member of the American Law Institute, Georgia State Bar Association, and American Bar Association.


AB, JD University of Illinois

Research Interests

Income Tax



Corporate Taxation
IL Bar Journal Editors
IL Bar Journal Staff
Income Taxation
Tax Exempt Organizations

Selected Publications

John D. Colombo and Mark A. Hall, The Charitable Tax Exemption (Westview Press 1995).

John D. Colombo, IRS and State Revenue Department Oversight of Nonprofit Organizations in the United States in Comparative Corporate Governance of Non-Profit Organizations (Kaus J. Hopt and Thomas von Hippel, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2010)

John D. Colombo, Utah County v. Intermountain Health Care: Reconsidering the Charitable Status of Nonprofit Hospitals, in Cases in Context: Health Law and Bioethics (Aspen Publishers 2009).

John D. Colombo, The NCAA, Tax-Exemption and College Athletics, 2010 Ill. L. Rev. 109 (2010).

John D. Colombo, Reforming the Internal Revenue Code Provisions on Commercial Activity by Charities, 76 Fordham L. Rev. 667 (2007) (Symposium on Nonprofit Law).

John D. Colombo, In Search of Private Benefit, 58 Fla. L. Rev. 639 (2006).

John D. Colombo, The Failure of Community Benefit, 15 Health Matrix 29 (2005).

John D. Colombo, The Role of Access in Charitable Tax Exemption, 82 Wash. U.L.Q. 343 (2004).

John D. Colombo, Commercial Activity and Charitable Tax Exemption, 44 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 487

See All Publications