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Information for Students

The Benefits of the Tax Clinic From a Student's Prospective

by Matthew Rockey-Hawley

The Tax Clinic has provided numerous opportunities that I would not have been exposed to in the law school classroom. For example, in my first week at the Tax Clinic, I met with clients and did intakes, something that few students experience while in law school. While one objective of legal advocacy is to resolve all matters in the client's favor, it truly is an educational experience to meet with a client to discuss outcomes that may not be favorable. In managing an extensive caseload, I have learned how to effectively juggle multiple tasks with critical deadlines.

The Tax Clinic assists low-income taxpayers with cases or controversies. Through my work with Tax Clinic clients, I have had the opportunity to prepare and file pleadings with the United States Tax Court. I also have worked with the IRS in resolving matters pending before the United States Tax Court. These experiences have given me first-hand knowledge of the procedural intricacies needed to effectively represent my client before the IRS or the Tax Court.

The knowledge and experience I have gained while working at the Tax Clinic also has provided me with practical experience in analyzing and understanding international income tax treaties in conjunction with the Internal Revenue Code.

The Tax Clinic Provides an Important Community Service by:

  • Empowering low-income taxpayers in our community who are in controversy with the IRS and taxpayers for whom English is a second language by offering the highest quality advocacy, legal representation, and community service;
  • Providing competent, experienced, and inexpensive legal services to help clients comply with federal, state, and local tax laws;
  • Increasing public awareness and understanding of the tax laws by disseminating information, identifying current legal issues, and anticipating future ones; and
  • Promoting volunteerism by integrating community service into legal education; partnering with other institutions of higher education and other nonprofit organizations for more effective service.

The Tax Clinic Furthers Legal Education by:

  • Building lawyering competencies through service learning in a teaching clinic that serves the legal needs of low-income taxpayers;
  • Offering students a model of practice that combines comprehensive exposure to fundamental lawyering skills with community service to low-income taxpayers;
  • Teaching students basic income tax law and practice and procedure before the IRS;
  • Providing an environment where students can apply these concepts to practice in residency at the Clinic;
  • Teaching students law-office management and client-service skills; and
  • Increasing student awareness and understanding of the art of lawyering, specifically as it relates to their work at the Clinic.

Legal matters assigned to students at the Tax Clinic include:

  • Representing clients in IRS collection matters;
  • Instituting installment agreements and offers in compromise;
  • Educating clients about nonresident alien tax issues consistent with the dictates of applicable tax treaties and the Internal Revenue Code;
  • Seeking penalty waivers from taxing authorities.

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