John D. Colombo

Albert E. Jenner, Jr. Professor

Professor Colombo received both his undergraduate degree and J.D. summa cum laude from the University of Illinois. During law school, he was recognized as a Harno Fellow and member of the Order of the Coif, and served as notes and comments editor of the Illinois Law Review. Following graduation, he served as a clerk to Judge Phyllis Kravitch of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and worked for an Atlanta law firm for six years before joining the faculty.

Professor Colombo teaches primarily in the tax field. His major research interest and most of his writing is in the area of tax-exempt organizations. He has written numerous articles on tax exemption theory, on the exemption standards for nonprofit hospitals and on commercial activity by nonprofit organizations. His book, The Charitable Tax Exemption (with Mark A. Hall; Westview Press, 1995), proposed a new theoretical and practical system for determining when non-profit entities should receive tax exemptions. In 2002, he received the College’s Carroll P. Hurd Award for Excellence in Faculty Scholarship for his article “Commercial Activity and Charitable Tax Exemption" (44 William & Mary Law Review 487, 2002).   His 2010 article “The NCAA, Tax-Exemption and College Athletics” (2010 Ill. L. Rev. 109) has received national attention and was part of a presentation to the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics in 2009.  

Professor Colombo has testified before the full House Ways and Means Committee as well as the Oversight Subcomittee of Congress, providing overviews of the legal rules for tax exemption under Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code, the rules for exemption of nonprofit hospitals, and issues regarding commercial activity by exempt charities. His work on tax exemption for nonprofit hospitals has been cited by the Illinois Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. He also is quoted regularly in the national press on tax exemption issues.

Professor Colombo served as associate dean of the College from 1995-98, from 1999-2000, and from 2010-12 and as acting dean during 1998, 2001, and 2002. He has been recognized as a University of Illinois College of Law Distinguished Graduate, and has received the College’s John E. Cribbet Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Campus Award for Excellence in Graduate and Professional Teaching and the Delta Sigma Omicron Award for Distinguished Teaching.  He is a member of the American Law Institute, Georgia State Bar Association and American Bar Association.