The work at the clinic is hands-on and heartwarming and I am gaining useful legal experience while doing it.
— Stephen C., JD and Tax Clinic Student

About the Federal Tax Clinic

The Federal Tax Clinic assists low-income individuals throughout Western Washington resolve disputes with the Internal Revenue Service. The clinic offers this assistance as a public service and as a means of training law students in tax practice. The Tax Clinic has added a pro bono panel of volunteer attorneys to assist the growing number of low-income taxpayers who have disputes with the IRS. There are currently 45 volunteer attorneys on the panel. During the first half of 2016, the clinic handled a total of 313 cases, decreased tax liabilities, penalties and interest by $2,004,592 and secured $35,108 in refunds for taxpayers.

Projects

Each student and volunteer attorney is the first chair attorney for their case. Students do not generally work in teams but are responsible for their own cases.

The Clinic represents clients at all levels of the IRS, from examination to appeals and collections and in the federal courts. Most cases are resolved administratively.

The Clinic had two reported cases in the United States Tax Court in recent years. In Roberts v. Commissioner, 141 T.C. No.19 (2013), the Tax Court found that the taxpayer’s ex-wife withdrew funds from his IRA without his consent. The Court held that even though the taxpayer was the owner of the IRA, because he did not request, receive or benefit from the IRA distributions, he should not be taxed on the withdrawal. In Bogart v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2014-46, the Court held that the IRS abused its discretion in failing to address the equitable grounds raised by the taxpayers in their collection due process hearing.

Many Tax Clinic students spend one week in February in Alaska preparing tax returns for Alaskan villagers. This tax preparation program is sponsored by the Alaska Business Development Corporation and the Graduate Program in Taxation at the UW School of Law. In 2016, 15 communities were served, 1,734 current year returns were prepared, an estimated $603,432 in tax preparation fees were saved and $2,433,097 in tax refunds were generated.

Related Publications

Scott Schumacher, faculty director, is the co-author of the book Tax Crimes, published by LexisNexis. See Schumacher’s other published works.

John Clynch, managing director, is the author of "Tax Consequences of 'Retiring' a General Partner’s Interest in a Law Partnership," which is included in The Lawyer’s Guide, published by the American Bar Association

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