MSU College of Law News

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 29, 2008

CONTACT: KATIE GALLAGHER
517/432-6848, galla145@law.msu.edu

MSU Law Students Use Their Spring Break to Work on Tax Breaks for Katrina Survivors

East Lansing, MI – Drawing on the experience some students have had in the MSU College of Law Tax Clinic, volunteer students and faculty will spend their Spring Break next week assisting Katrina survivors in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The team of 10 students (Sarah Daya, Patsy Clarke, Eloise Pinto, Alessa Thomas, Amanda Gardiner, Sarah Howley, Tyson Lemons, Ogechi Onyeani, Andrew Davis, and Scott Gordon), Professor Michele LaForest Halloran, Tax Fellow Andrew Campbell, and former Tax Fellow Joshua Wease will set up a week-long Tax Clinic from March 3-7 to prepare current and past years’ tax returns for English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) and low-income New Orleans residents. They will also assist with resolution of any existing tax problems or controversies the residents may have.

The tax assistance is free of charge. Students hope to aid up to 700 people, determining eligibility for significant tax credits and providing advice when important documents relating to tax liabilities may have been destroyed. MSU Law Clinicians will be at the following places March 3 - 7 providing tax assistance:

Students and faculty will give up their week off to donate their professional skills – and they will live as volunteers during this experience. The team will stay at Camp Hope, a converted middle school that provides Katrina volunteers army barracks-style accommodations and hot meals.

“The spirit and dedication of MSU Law students who have volunteered for this trip is amazing – they clearly personify the school’s commitment to serve the legal needs of disadvantaged and forgotten people,” Halloran said. “The goal of this project is to ensure that low-income residents take advantage of all available federal and state tax credits they are eligible for, so that they then have monetary resources to help rebuild their lives. We know that this will be a life-changing experience for all of us!”

The group is well qualified to lend this type of aid. The MSU Law Tax Clinic provides similar services to low income and ESL clients throughout Northern, Central, and Western Michigan. The Tax Clinic handles all aspects of controversy with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), including interviewing and counseling clients, preparing cases for appeals conferences, and appearing at the conferences. Students typically handle matters from beginning to end, interviewing clients, researching tax laws, preparing files, and providing necessary services.

MSU College of Law was in founded in 1891 and is a private institution of higher learning devoted exclusively to professional education in law. The Law College is one of only a few private law schools to be affiliated with a research university, enabling it to provide a comprehensive interdisciplinary legal education program. Classes offered in its state-of-the-art facilities provide students the benefits of a Big Ten campus while maintaining the small school culture. The Law College is one of the oldest continuously operating independent law colleges in the nation. For more information about the Law College, visit www.law.msu.edu.

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