Michelle D. Layser

Assistant Professor of Law


Professor Michelle Layser joined the College of Law faculty in fall 2018, teaching business entity taxation, state and local taxation and housing and community development law. Before coming to Illinois, Professor Layser spent two years at the Georgetown University Law Center as a Law Research Fellow and Adjunct Professor of Law.

Professor Layser has broad research interests at the intersection of tax law and social policy. Major themes in her research include the use of tax expenditures to deliver public goods, and the effect of such tax expenditures on economic and social inequality. Her current research focuses on how tax law impacts geographic inequality, including through the use of place-based tax incentives that subsidize private investment in affordable housing and community development. Her research on place-based tax incentives has appeared in the U.C. Irvine Law Review, the Tax Law Review, the Wisconsin Law Review, and the Indiana Law Journal. She is regularly quoted by news outlets for her expertise in place-based tax incentives, including appearances in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Trump Inc. podcast (jointly produced by NPR and ProPublica).

Professor Layser earned her LL.M. in Taxation from New York University. She received her JD from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, where she graduated order of the coif. While in law school, she served on the board of the Southern California Law Review. She earned her BA with honors from the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Layser has worked as a transactional associate at Latham & Watkins LLP (Los Angeles, Washington D.C.) and as a managing editor at Bloomberg BNA.


LLM New York University
JD University of Southern California Gould School of Law
BA University of Pennsylvania


Partnership Taxation
State and Local Taxation

Selected Publications

How Federal Tax Law Rewards Housing Segregation, 93 Ind. L.J. (forthcoming 2018) 

Improving Tax Incentives for Wind Energy Production: The Case for a Refundable Production Tax Credit, 81 Mo. L. Rev. 453 (2016) 

The Quest to Save Journalism: A Legal Analysis of New Models for Newspapers from Nonprofit Tax-Exempt Organizations to L3Cs, 2010 Utah L. Rev. 1315 (2010) (with Nikki Usher) 

Tax Justice and Same-Sex Domestic Partner Health Benefits: An Analysis of the Tax Equity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act, 32 U. Haw. L. Rev. 73 (2009) 

The Problem with Place-Based Investment Tax Incentives (work in progress)