Through the Federal Tax Clinic, students represent low-income taxpayers in controversies with the IRS, both before the IRS and in federal court. Students work individually and in teams to represent taxpayers involving examinations, administrative appeals, collection matters and cases before the United States Tax Court and Federal District Courts. Students represent taxpayers with the goal of maximizing financial well-being and protecting taxpayer rights, including securing refunds and credits to which taxpayers are entitled, providing relief from joint and several liability for innocent spouses, and reducing tax liabilities through successful negotiated resolutions or compromises of liabilities based upon taxpayer financial hardship. Because the clinic teaches lawyering skills applicable across numerous practice areas, students are encouraged to enroll whether they have an existing interest in tax law and practice or simply seek an immersive law practice experience through which they can learn valuable skills and provide pro bono representation to those in need.
Clinic students should concurrently enroll in the Federal Tax Clinical Seminar. In the Seminar students learn the substantive law, procedural context, advocacy skills, and ethical rules necessary for the effective representation of low-income taxpayers before the IRS and in federal court. The seminar covers an array of topics, including tax practice and procedure at the agency level and in federal court, administrative law, client interviewing, fact investigation, offers in compromise, negotiation, refund litigation, audit reconsideration, innocent spouse defenses, Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and evidentiary hearings. The seminar also considers, through the lens of students’ clinical experiences, systemic questions about tax policy, anti-poverty policy, and access to justice for low-income taxpayers.