Donald B. Tobin

John C. Elam/Vorys Sater Professor of Law; Senior Fellow, Election Law @ Moritz
Contact Information:

(614) 688-3539 Drinko 212

  • B.A., Duke University, Economics, 1989
  • J.D., Georgetown University Law Center, 1996 (magna cum laude)

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Areas of Expertise:
  • Business Law
  • Campaign Finance
  • Election Law
  • Federal Budget Process
  • Legislation
  • Nonprofit Organizations
  • Taxes

Donald B. Tobin, the John C. Elam/Vorys Sater Professor of Law, has quickly become one of the nation’s leading experts on the intersection of tax and campaign finance laws. Professor Tobin developed his interest in tax, economics, and election law while serving on Capitol Hill and in the U.S. Department of Justice. He arrived at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in 2001, and has since served as associate dean for academic affairs, associate dean for faculty, the Frank E. and Virginia H. Bazler Designated Professor in Business Law, co-director of the Program on Law and Leadership, and a senior fellow of law at Moritz’s Election Law @ Moritz program.

Professor Tobin has written several journal articles on the intersection of tax and campaign finance laws, most recently focusing on the roles of nonprofit and other taxable entities that wish to participate in political campaigns. His most recent work includes Political Campaigning by Churches and Charities: Hazardous for 501(C)(3)s, Dangerous for Democracy (95 Geo. L.J. 1313) and Political Advocacy and Taxable Entities: Are They the Next “Loophole”? (6 First Amend. L. Rev. 41). Professor Tobin, with Professor Edward B. Foley, were instrumental in encouraging the Federal Election Commission to consider further regulation of 527 organizations, and Professor Tobin testified in April 2004 before the commission on the future regulation of these “527 groups” in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McConnell v. FEC.

Professor Tobin in 2012 co-authored the textbook Federal Income Tax: A Contemporary Approach, which is part of West’s new interactive casebook series. In addition, he is the co-author of Principles Of Federal Income Tax, The Concise Hornbook Series (7th Edition), and a textbook on tax ethics, Problems in Tax Ethics (2009).

From 1997-01, Professor Tobin was an attorney on the appellate staff of the tax division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where he won an Outstanding Attorney Award in 1999. He was an adjunct professor at American University’s Washington College of Law and served as a clerk for the Honorable Francis D. Murnaghan Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Prior to his service with Judge Murnaghan, Professor Tobin specialized in the fields of budget, tax, and economics while working in Washington, D.C. Professor Tobin was a staff member with the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, and for U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes.

Professor Tobin teaches in the areas of federal income taxation and legislation.