After graduating from the University of Virginia Law School in 1940, where he was editor-in-chief of the Law Review, Mr. Caplin served as a law clerk to U.S. Circuit Judge Armistead M. Dobie. He then practiced law in New York City from 1941 to 1950, with time out for military service in the U.S. Navy. During the Normandy invasion, he served as U.S. Navy beachmaster and was cited as a member of the initial landing force on Omaha Beach. In 1950, Mr. Caplin returned to the University of Virginia as a professor of law, specializing in tax and corporate law and publishing extensively in both of these fields. Following President John F. Kennedy's election, Mr. Caplin served on the President's Task Force on Taxation and, in January 1961, was appointed U.S. Commissioner of Internal Revenue. Robert F. Kennedy (1951) and Edward M. Kennedy (1959) had been among his law students. He remained in that post until July 1964, when he resigned to form the law firm of Caplin & Drysdale based in Washington, D.C. On leaving the U. S. government, he received the Alexander Hamilton Award, the highest award conferred by the Secretary of the Treasury, for his "distinguished leadership."
Mr. Caplin has deep commitments to public service, teaching, and the educational process itself. He was a visiting professor in tax law at UVA for 22 years, retiring as a professor emeritus in 1987. Mr. Caplin has served as Trustee of many educational and charitable organizations, including the Board of Visitors, University of Virginia (1992-1997); UVA Law School Foundation; and Miller Center of Public Affairs. Caplin has been a generous benefactor to UVA, especially to the Law School. His visionary gifts have funded the Law School's Caplin Auditorium, the Daniel Caplin Professorship, the Mortimer Caplin Public Service Scholarship, the Mortimer Caplin Public Service Award and the Mortimer Caplin Public Service Center as well as several major improvements to the school's facilities. Most recently, he was presented with the Thomas Jefferson Medal in Law, the University of Virginia’s highest honor. He is Professor Emeritus at UVA Law School. As former Law School Dean Robert Scott once noted, "Mortimer Caplin has done it all."
Doing Business in Other States (United States Corporation Co., 1959); excerpt reprinted in Prac. Law., Oct. 1959, at 72-80.
How to Handle IRS Audits, Disputes and Appeals (chairman) (New York Law Journal, 1974).
Practice under the New Pension Reform Legislation (chairman) (Law Journal Press, 1974).
Federal Tax Procedures: Emerging Developments on Audits, Disputes and Appeals (chairman) (Law Journal Seminars-Press, 1975).
Planning & Drafting under the Emerging Pension Regulations: Dealing with the New Wave of Rules (chairman) (Law Journal Press, 1975).
Shaky Tax Shelters – Practical Problems and Remedies for SEC, IRS, Investor Problems (co-chairman with Alan B. Levenson and Ralph Hocker) (New York Law Journal, 1975).
Business Records: How to Protect Information from Government; How to Procure Information from the Government (co-chairman with A.A. Sommer, Jr.) (Law Journal Press, 1976).
Tax Reform Act of ’76: An Authoritative Faculty of Government Officials and Private Practitioners Explains the New Realities (chairman with Arthur A. Feder) (Law Journal Press, 1976; 2d ed. 1977).
Corporations in Crisis: Recent Developments on Responsibilities and Liabilities of Corporate Directors, Attorneys and Accountants (co-chairman with William L. Cary and Robert H. Mundheim) (Law Journal Press, 1977).
Freedom of Information and Sunshine Laws (co-chairman with Harvey L. Pitt) (Law Journal Press, 1977).
New Directions in IRS Audits, Disputes and Appeals: Insights into Policies and Priorities from Government Officials and Private Practitioners (chairman) (Law Journal Press, 1977).
Perquisites (co-chairman with Alan B. Levenson) (Law Journal Seminars-Press, 1978).
What Lawyers & Accountants Need to Know about the 1978 Tax Law (chairman) (Law & Business, 1979).
Criminal Tax Investigations, Conferences, & Prosecutions: Understanding the New Focus on Large Corporations, Sophisticated “Avoidance” Arrangements and Tax Advisers (chairman with Paul S. Berger) (Law & Business, 1980).
How to Prepare & Defend Tax Shelter Opinions: Risks and Realities for Lawyers and Accountants (co-chairman with A.A. Sommer, Jr.) (Law & Business, 1981).
The Tax Act of 1981: New Directions in Tax Planning (co-chairman with Arthur H. Kroll) (Law & Business, 1981).
Tax Shelter Controversies: New Directions in IRS Civil and Criminal Investigations and Litigation (co-chairman with Cono R. Namorato) (Law & Business, 1981).
The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (co-chairman with Martin J. Rabinowitz) (Law & Business, 1982).
Tax Shelter Controversies (co-chairman with Michael R. Klein) (Law and Business, 1982).
The Tax Reform Act of 1984 (co-chairman with Arthur A. Feder) (Law & Business, 1984).
Third Annual Tax Shelter Controversies: The IRS, Justice, & SEC Crack Down (co-chairman with Cono R. Namorato) (Law & Business, 1984).
Time Value of Money Rules under the 1984 Tax Act (chairman) (Law & Business, 1984).
Real Estate & Leasing Transactions in the Shadow of Tax Reform (co-chairman with Stuart I. Odell and Michael I. Sanders) (Law & Business, 1985).
Tax Shelters: Fourth Annual Seminar (co-chairman with Cono R. Namorato) (Law & Business, 1985).
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 (co-chairman with Arthur A. Feder) (Prentice Hall Law and Business, 1986).
Tax Shelters, 1986 Style: The IRS Speaks (co-chairman with Fred T. Goldberg, Jr.) (Law & Business, 1986).
Limitations on Passive Activity Losses and Credits: Creative Tax Planning for Business & Investment under Section 469 of the ’86 Tax Act (co-chairman with Dennis E. Ross) (Prentice Hall Law & Business, 1987).
New Regulations on Interest Allocation and Passive Activity Losses (chairman) (Prentice Hall Law & Business, 1987).
The New Regulations on Passive Activity Losses (co-chairman with Dennis E. Ross) (Prentice Hall Law & Business, 1988).
Passive Activity Losses: The Latest Regulations (Second Installment) (co-chairman with Michael J. Grace) (Prentice Hall Law & Business, 1989).
Proxies, Annual Meetings and Corporate Democracy: The Lawyer’s Role, 37 Va. L. Rev. 653-697 (1951).
Shareholder Nominations of Directors: A Program for Fair Corporate Suffrage, 39 Va. L. Rev. 141-161 (1953).
Casualty Losses: Recent Developments, 12 Inst. on Fed. Tax’n 525-562 (1954).
Estate Plans, Wills and Will Clauses (contributor), in 3 Current Legal Forms with Tax Analysis (Jacob Rabkin & Mark H. Johnson eds., Bender, 1955).
How to Treat Gifts to Minors, 13 Inst. on Fed. Tax’n 193-221 (1955).
Trusts for Minors, 14 Inst. on Fed. Tax’n 361-391 (1956); reprinted in 13 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 145-169 (1956).
Corporate Division under the 1954 Code: A New Approach to the Five-Year “Active Business” Rule, 43 Va. L. Rev. 397-408 (1957); excerpts reprinted in Va. L. Wkly., June 10, 1957, at 1-2, 4, and in 8 Va. L. Wkly. Dicta 40-45 (1956-57).
Corporate Separations: The 5-Year Business Rule, 15 Inst. on Fed. Tax’n 623-642 (1957); reprinted in 35 Taxes 381-390 (1957).
Threats to the Integrity of Our Tax System, 44 Va. L. Rev. 839-855 (1958).
The Caloric Count of a Thin Incorporation, 17 Inst. on Fed. Tax’n 771-826 (1959); reprinted in 43 Marq. L. Rev. 31-71 (1959).
Subchapter S vs. Partnership: A Proposed Legislative Program, 46 Va. L. Rev. 61-83 (1960); abridged version printed in 12 J. Tax’n 32-37 (1960).
Income Tax Pressures on the Form of Business Organization: Is It Time for a “Doing Business” Tax?, 47 Va. L. Rev. 249-263 (1961).
What to Do When the IRS Agent Calls, in What Every General Practitioner Should Know about Taxation III-1 to III-11 (Virginia State Bar and Virginia Bar Association, 1973).
Trading with Related Foreign Entities: Current American Tax Perspective, 9 Akron L. Rev. 223-242 (1975).
Reflections on I.R.S. Criminal Tax Investigations of Corporations, 12 Cumb. L. Rev. 233-260 (1982).
Handling Tax Shelter Disputes and Litigation with the Irs, 31 Wm. & Mary Tax Conf. 155-176 (1986).
The Tax Lawyer’s Role in the Way the American Tax System Works, Va. Law., Apr. 2005, at 40-45.
Federal Securities Law – in a Thimble: A Bibliography, 6 Reading Guide 50-52 (1951).
Review of Ballantine & Jennings, eds., Prentice-Hall Students Corporation Law Service, 4 J. Legal Educ. 215-220 (1951).
Corporate Democracy: A History and Definition, Va. L. Wkly., Oct. 9, 1952, at 1, 3-4; reprinted in 4 Va. L. Wkly. Dicta 1-6 (1952-53).
Review of Corey, Direct Placement of Corporate Securities, 38 Va. L. Rev. 273-280 (1952).
Review of Brown, Cases and Other Materials on the Law of Taxation, 2d ed., 6 J. Legal Educ 273-280 (1953).
A Tax Requiem for “Unrestricted” Options, Va. L. Wkly., Feb. 21, 1957, at 1-4; reprinted in 8 Va. L. Wkly. Dicta 33-39 (1956-57).
Review of Aranow & Einhorn, Proxy Contests for Corporate Control, 71 Harv. L. Rev. 1381-1387 (1958).
Statement, in 3 General Revenue Revision 2439-2446 (Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives, Hearing, Jan. 31, 1958).
Subchapter S and its Effect on the Capitalization of Corporations, 13 Vand. L. Rev. 185-195 (1959).
Statement, in Pension Plans for Owner-Managers of Corporations 56-58 (Committee on Finance, U.S. Senate, Hearing, May 11, 1960).
Review of Ehrlich, The Takers, 16 Reading Guide 48-49 (1961).
Statement, in Nominations 5 (Committee on Finance, U.S. Senate, Hearing, Feb. 1, 1961).
Caplin Suggests Reform in State Taxation Power, Va. L. Wkly., Dec. 12, 1968, at 1-3, and Dec. 19, 1968, at 1-3; reprinted in 20 Va. L. Wkly. Dicta 30-38 (1968-69).
IRS Ruling Challenges Public Interest Firms, Va. L. Wkly., Feb. 5, 1971, at 1-3; IRS Settles Differences with Pro Bono Law Firms, Va. L. Wkly., Feb. 12, 1971 at 1-3, 6; reprinted in 22 Va. L. Wkly. Dicta 202-213 (1970-71).
A Debt of Service: Founder’s Day Ceremonies, University of Virginia (Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 1975).
Hardy Cross Dillard: Dean 1963-68, Va. L. Sch. Rep., Summer 1988, at 17-19.
Response to Portrait Unveiling, Va. L. Sch. Rep., Winter 1990, at 30.
Foreword, in John O. Fox, If Americans Really Understood the Income Tax: Uncovering Our Most Expensive Ignorance xi-xii (Westview, 2001); reprinted in 91 Tax Notes 1627 (2001).
Celebrating Edwin S. Cohen – “Master Practitioner-Teacher” September 27, 1914 - January 12, 2006, 25 Va. Tax Rev. 575-581 (2006).