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Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic Report

Monday, May 19, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Joe Libertelli
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Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic Director Amanda Dunlap, '08, wrote this excellent wrap up report on Clinic work:



Shelley,

Thank you so much for the opportunity to come back to UDC as a visiting professor in the tax clinic. I probably learned more this year than the students. I enjoyed working with such an outstanding group of students and faculty. Before leaving, I did a little math and was amazed at what the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC)  accomplished.

Besides spending over 21,000 minutes on the phone in the Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation Settlement project, during the fall 2013 and spring 2014 semesters, the LITC was able to reduce tax liabilities by $108,389.62, and was able to stop collection of an additional $298,350.30 from low income residents of the DC area.

Students from the clinic successfully negotiated at two administrative hearings to stop collection of $18,070.63 from two separate clients. 2L Christian Schley represented one of the clients in a face-to-face collection due process hearing and convinced the IRS Appeals Officer that paying the tax liability would create an economic hardship for the client. Stopping imminent collection of the tax was a great relief to the client, a single mother of two in the process of expanding her business. 2L Kristin Moore represented the second client in a telephonic collection due process hearing, in which the IRS Appeals Officer agreed in under two minutes to grant the clinic’s request to stop collection based on the economic hardship that levying the client’s Social Security benefits would cause. Kristin did extensive research on calculating the fair market value of a timeshare, and her research convinced the IRS that the client’s only asset had no equity.

Recently graduated 3L Kevin Regan assisted two taxpayers with their Tax Court cases. One case resulted in a full concession by the IRS, saving the taxpayer $16,044. The second case resulted in a partial concession by the IRS, resulting in savings of $5,011 for the client. The first case presented complex capital gains tax issues, which the LITC rarely encounters. Kevin did a great deal of research, and helped determine what documents the taxpayer needed to provide to substantiate her position. After providing these documents to the IRS, the IRS conceded the case, and accuracy-related penalty, in full. The second case involved a worker-classification issue, in which the IRS attorney agreed with the clinic’s argument that the client was an employee (versus an independent contractor) for most of the year. The $5,011 savings was a great victory to the client.

2L Laura LaPrade convinced the DC Office of Tax and Revenue to write off an elderly client’s tax liability of over $27,000 and release the tax lien on her home. After the Washington Post’s article in September about DC residents, particularly elderly ones, losing their homes over relatively small tax liabilities (http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2013/09/08/left-with-nothing/), the LITC was thrilled that the client was no longer in danger of losing her home.

The LITC submitted numerous offers in compromise on behalf of its clients this academic year. While many of the offers are still under consideration by the IRS (the IRS has two years to consider the offer before it’s deemed accepted), the LITC had three offers in compromise accepted by the IRS. The accepted offers reduced three clients’ tax liabilities by a total of $56,334.62. The LITC started submitting low-dollar offers in compromise this year (with an offer amount of $10 or less), and one of the accepted offers was the first of these low-dollar offers. The client’s offer of $10 was accepted to settle his $5,800 liability. The LITC has several other even lower offers pending, and hopes to receive additional good news soon. The students who submitted, followed-up on, and assisted with these offers in compromise are: recently graduated 4Ls Alice Gomez and Robert Newman, recently graduated 3Ls Qiana Brandon, Prasant Dubey, Shereen Hamed, and Sherman Taylor, and 2Ls Laura LaPrade, Norman Roman, and Alex Smith.

The LITC also stopped collection of $280,279.67 from other clients by placing them in currently not collectible status. Many clients struggle with timely filing accurate tax returns. The IRS has often refused to stop collection action when a taxpayer has unfiled tax returns. During the spring 2014 semester, the LITC has had great success in placing clients into currently not collectible status, even if the clients have unfiled tax returns. The LITC argued that a 2009 Tax Court decision provides that it can still be an economic hardship to collect from a taxpayer, even if the taxpayer has unfiled tax returns. The students who succeeded in making this argument, or otherwise stopping collection from their clients, are: recently graduated 4L Jamila Shand, recently graduated 3Ls Qiana Brandon, Audryana Camacho, Clayton Fox, and Puja Phull, and 2Ls Kristin Moore, Norman Roman, and Randle Wilson.

One of the LITC's clients had a tax hold placed on their driver's license for failure to pay outstanding state tax liabilities. The client's license was set to expire in two weeks and without paying the tax liability, the client would not be able to renew the license. The client was unemployed, and concerned that an expired driver's license would make it difficult to find a job. Recently graduated 3L Clayton Fox acted quickly to advocate on behalf of the client. Clayton ultimately submitted an Offer in Compromise to the state, and negotiated so the state would remove the hold and allow the client to renew the license while the Offer in Compromise was under consideration. The client was grateful for Clayton's fast work and was able to renew the driver's license before it expired. The Offer in Compromise was later accepted, reducing the client's state tax liability by about $4,000.

2L Kristin Moore drafted and filed a Motion to Dismiss, without prejudice, in a collection case in the Tax Court. The Court granted Kristin’s motion less than 24 hours after it was filed.

Finally, two graduating students, Carolyn Singh and Chris Allen, were both accepted into prestigious graduate programs in tax law. Carolyn was accepted at NYU, Georgetown, and Boston University, and Chris was accepted at Boston University.

Again, thanks so much for this opportunity, and if any UDC law students are interested in careers in tax, I’m always happy to talk to them and help in whatever way I can.

Amanda


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