MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — Two teams from WVU Law won first and second place in the 2019 Albert R. Mugel National Tax Moot Court Competition held recently at the University of Buffalo.
Sierra Williams and Emily Cramer, both second-year law students, took first place in the competition. In the final round, Williams was awarded best oral advocate. She also won best oral argument in the preliminary rounds.
Third-year law students Braden Noon and Hannah Williams won second place. They were also recognized for the best respondent brief in the final round.
The WVU Law teams were coached by Elaine Waterhouse Wilson, professor of law and associate dean for academic affairs. Wilson has coached student teams for tax moot court competitions since she joined WVU Law’s faculty in 2012.
The annual Albert R. Mugel National Tax Moot Court Competition, held this year on March 9, is the oldest national tax moot court competition in the United States. Competing teams present appellate arguments involving timely issues of federal tax law and policy.
“Each year, the competition’s problem surrounds a real case working its way through the courts,” said Wilson. “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently decided the case that this year’s problem was based from, so it was very timely.”
This year’s problem at the Mugel National Tax Moot Court Competition involved the Parsonage Rental Allowance and whether it violates the First Amendment. The Parsonage Rental Allowance permits ministers and clergy to receive church funds to pay their rent without including it as income for tax purposes. The law requires anyone who is not a minister or clergy member to include money as income if they received it from their employer for the same purpose.
The competition also featured a procedural question regarding the statute of limitations and how it applies to situations in which an outside party makes an error when preparing a client’s taxes.
“It was a difficult problem this year, and both teams worked hard over the semester as they prepared for the competition,” said Wilson. “To be able to answer the challenging questions the judges asked, the students had to have a very broad understanding of the problem and the policy surrounding it. They made me proud.”