Lily Batchelder

Affiliated Faculty, NYU Wagner; Professor of Law and Public Policy, NYU School of Law

(212) 992-8156
(212) 995-4341
40 Washington Square South, 324
By appointment only
Lily Batchelder

Lily Batchelder is Professor of Law and Public Policy at the NYU School of Law and an Affiliated Professor at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

Batchelder was on leave from 2010 to 2015 to work for President Obama’s administration and Congress. At the White House, she served as Deputy Director of the National Economic Council and Deputy Assistant to the President. There, she was responsible for tax and budget issues, including tax reform, retirement policy and low-income benefits. Prior to that, she served as Majority Chief Tax Counsel for the US Senate Committee on Finance, where she led Chairman Baucus’s work on tax issues, including tax reform and the fiscal cliffs.

Batchelder’s research and teaching focuses on tax law and fiscal policy, with a focus on personal income taxes, business tax reform, wealth transfer taxes and social insurance. She has written extensively on the efficient design of tax incentives, and the effects of tax and transfer policy on economic insecurity, income disparities and intergenerational mobility. Apart from her academic work, she regularly advises policymakers and nonprofit organizations on policy matters. She was a visiting professor at Harvard Law School and is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance.

Before joining the faculty in 2005, Batchelder held positions in the private, public and nonprofit sectors, including as an associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, a fellow at the Wiener Center on Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, the director of community affairs for a New York state senator, and the client advocate for a small social services organization in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, Brooklyn.

Batchelder received her AB in Political Science with honors and distinction from Stanford University, her MPP in Microeconomics and Human Services from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and her JD from Yale Law School.


Batchelder, L., Nichols, A. & Toder, E.. $750 Billion Misspent? Getting More from Tax Incentives. Urban Institute Press


Batchelder, L.. What Should Society Expect from Heirs? A Proposal for a Comprehensive Inheritance Tax.. Tax Law Review 
Batchelder, L.. Reform Options for the Estate Tax System: Targeting Unearned Income. Testimony before the United States Committee on Finance March 12
Batchelder, L.. Taxing Privilege More Effectively: Replacing the Estate Tax with an Inheritance Tax. in The Path to Prosperity: Hamilton Project Ideas on Income Security, Education, and Taxes  (Jason Bordoff and Jason Furman, ed., Brookings Institution Press)


Batchelder, L.. Household Income Volatility and Tax Policy: Helping More and Hurting Less. Testimony before the Joint Economic Committee Feb. 28
Batchelder, L.. Taxing Privilege More Effectively: Replacing the Estate Tax with an Inheritance Tax. Hamilton Project Discussion Paper



Each year the federal individual income tax code provides over $500 billion worth of incentives intended to encourage socially beneficial activities, such as charitable contributions, homeownership, and education. This is an enormous investment, exceeding our budget for national defense and amounting to about 4% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The design of these tax incentives is an immensely important policy matter. Yet despite their efficiency rationale, little attention has been paid to the question of what economic efficiency implies about the form these tax incentives should take.