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Tax Clinic for Low Income Taxpayers

Name of Non-Profit Agency: 
University of Connecticut School of Law Tax Clinic*
Contact: 
Lisa Perkins
Assistant Clinical Professor & Director, Tax Clinic
lisa.perkins@uconn.edu
860-570-5461
Why is this assistance important to these clients? 
Without the assistance, many low income taxpayers would not have the tax refunds, wages or social security benefits necessary to pay their ordinary and necessary living expenses, or would not be able to correct the amount of tax they owe.
Who are the clients? 
Low income taxpayers with tax controversies and tax litigation cases involving individual income tax problems.
What legal strategies do the pro bono lawyers use to assist the clients? 
Some familiarity with tax and tax procedure. Training will be provided if necessary.
If the pro bono attorney will be appearing for the client, in what court or other forum will that appearance be? 
United States Tax Court
What are the outcome goals of this assistance? 
To assist low income taxpayers in getting much needed refunds or to stop collection by putting accounts in not collectible status or submitting an offer in compromise.
What time commitment is required to do this pro bono work? 
Depends on the case. Some can be resolved with an initial meeting with the client and a few phone calls. Other may require a financial statement to be prepared which could talk up to 10 hours. We work with the pro bono attorney upfront to see what amount of time he or she is willing to spend on the matter. If something comes up, we can take the case back in house.
Where is the pro bono work done? (For example, at a legal aid office or at the pro bono attorney's office.) 

At the pro bono attorney's office or in the Tax Clinic offices.

Give a short (1-paragraph) case example: 
I was amazed at the spectrum of issues our Tax Clinic clients faced. Within weeks of enrollment, I was applying a wide range of substantive and procedural tax law to my clients' needs. We worked on challenging cases.” --Brennan Price, '04, Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider, LLP, Hartford, CT.<br><br>Clients are provided high quality legal representation at three levels before the Internal Revenue Service and the Connecticut Department of Revenue Service.<br><br>1. Audits: Students prepare for and represent clients in connection with audits of income tax returns.<br><br>2. Appeals Students represent clients with regards to the appeal of an adverse audit, the exercise of due process rights after the IRS first tries to collect a past tax by a levy or a lien or the denial of an offer in compromise, or the appeal of an adverse determination of the request for innocent spouse; and<br><br>3. Collection during the process of proposing an alternative payment plan or a compromise of tax liabilities.<br><br>The Tax Clinic also represents its clients in litigation. The Tax Clinic appears before the United States Tax Court with respect to litigation of tax matters, including adverse audit determinations or denials of collection alternatives and generally once a semester attends the United States Tax Court trial session in Hartford, CT. The Tax Clinic also represents clients before the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut, the United States Court of Federal Claims, and the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit with respect to refund actions and Freedom of Information litigation.<br><br>The Tax Clinic does not fill out tax returns or provide other accounting services. The Law School sponsors a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site that is operated in Hartford during the tax filing season. Students interested in enrolling in the Tax Clinic or in providing tax-related public service are encouraged to participate.
If no How are those without full admission supervised to ensure avoidance of issues regarding unlicensed practice?: 
If an attorney is in good standing with the IRS, they must abide by the IRS rules of practice. The Tax Clinic director will supervise those not licensed to practice in CT. Volunteers must be attorneys, paralegals, or CPAs.
If it is important that a pro bono lawyer already has particular legal background or training, please describe. 
Some basic knowledge of federal income tax.
What training is provided to pro bono lawyers doing this work? 
We do periodic CLE courses at the CT Bar Association, or provide one-on-one training with a pro bono volunteer.
Who provides the training? 
Diana Leyden, the Director.
Where is the training held? How long does the training last? 
Usually at the CBA offices in New Britain, CT.
Who are the adverse parties (if any) for this type of work (for example, landlords, spouses, banks, government entities)? 
IRS; Conn. Dept of Revenue Services.
At what time of day is the pro bono work done (example evening clinic)?: 
Anytime that works for both the pro bono attorney and the client, unless the pro bono attorney has to meet with an IRS or DRS employee. This is usually set up during the day.
Does this pro bono work require full admission to practice in Connecticut? 
No. But it does require the pro bono attorney to be in good standing with the IRS.
Can the training be attended remotely (webinar or teleconference)? 
Not at this time.
When is the next training (after October 1) and how often is training offered? 

None scheduled yet.

Category: 
This organization is a member of the Connecticut Pro Bono Network.