Fisher alumna wins top tax award

Fisher School of Accounting alumna Lillian Mills was awarded the American Taxation Association’s highest honor, the Ray M. Sommerfeld Outstanding Tax Educator Award.

Mills (BSAcc ’80, MAcc ’81) was recognized for her career contributions in the areas of tax-related teaching, research and service, according to Shelley Rhoades-Catanach, the former president of the American Taxation Association (ATA). Lillian Mills

Mills, the department chair at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, has not only taught tax at the undergraduate, master’s and Ph.D. levels, but she has also written several dozen published research papers.

She has supported tax doctoral students by co-authoring many research papers with them and serving on 12 dissertation committees, Rhoades-Catanach said.

Mills is active in the professional community, having served on National Tax Association, American Accounting Association and ATA committees, as well as on the editorial boards of multiple accounting publications, including The Journal of the American Taxation Association, Rhoades-Catanach said.

Mills has also been a consultant for the IRS and the U.S. Department of Treasury.

Dr. Gary McGill, Director of the Fisher School, noted that she is a triple-threat faculty member. “Lil is a top-notch researcher who is willing to share her expertise with others, an enthusiastic and much-loved teacher, and a tireless worker behind the scenes of numerous professional organizations. She’s also one of the nicest persons you’ll ever meet.”

Professor Mills has deep Gator connections. Her father, Dr. John Dunkle was a geography professor at the University of Florida for many years.

“My career has enjoyed so many lucky turns, including amazing mentors and peers that helped me learn to love tax, do research and provide opportunities to pay something forward,” Mills said.

Mills said she was inspired to make tax her career through the “tax enthusiasm” of Fisher School’s Dr. Jesse Boyles, Dr. Sandra Kramer and Dr. John L. “Jack” Kramer, who passed away in April 2013.

When she was at UF, Mills served as the Beta Alpha Psi (BAP) vice president and presented a paper at a BAP regional conference, she said.

“Presenting and defending research as a student was a preview of how much fun a scholarly academic career would be,” Mills said.  “I am proud to be an accounting Gator alumna.”

The award was created in 1993 and is given in honor of one of the founding members of the ATA, Ray M. Sommerfeld, a former faculty member of McCombs and the first recipient of the award, according to the ATA website.