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Accounting and Taxes: Real-Life Learning in Professor Michelle Hanlon's Classroom

Finance Forums 2013Michelle Hanlon

When Michelle Hanlon, Howard W. Johnson Professor and Professor of Accounting, joined the faculty of MIT Sloan in 2009, she wasn’t sure what to expect. But after spending time on campus, she had a revelation: “I thought the mission of improving the world was just a slogan. But MIT and MIT Sloan live this every day—it’s true, we are trying to improve the world and make a difference.”

Hanlon currently teaches two courses at MIT Sloan, 15.518 Taxes and Business Strategy and 15.516 Financial Accounting. Students enter the courses with mixed expectations—however, they inevitably leave with a deep understanding of both the importance of these fields and what makes them so fascinating to study.

In 15.518 Taxes and Business Strategy, taken by students from nearly all of MIT Sloan’s master-degree programs as well as the undergraduate program, students often report back to Hanlon that her class has been incredibly valuable for them, both professionally and personally. Students can better understand tax issues and policy debates, and they have a solid base of knowledge to work with when they start their own companies. As she acknowledges, “We all pay taxes... . How tax policy is set by governments touches almost every aspect of business and, indeed, everyday life.”

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