Grant Will Allow Clinic To Continue Taxpayer Assistance
The Gonzaga Law Federal Tax Clinic, which is charged with assisting low-income taxpayers with their IRS conflicts and litigation, recently received continued grant funding for three years from the Internal Revenue Service. Additionally, on the evening of November 27, the Clinic hosted a reception for the Honorable Judge L. Paige Marvel, who had been in town to conduct the annual Spokane Tax Court Calendar. The students took the opportunity to not only assist taxpayers, but get an inside view of the daily operations of the Tax Court.
National Taxpayer Advocate Makes First-Ever Visit to Gonzaga
In early October, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olsen visited Gonzaga Law School. This was the first visit to the West Coast of the National Taxpayer Advocate since 2005, and her first-ever visit to Gonzaga. The Advocate works closely with Congress to ensure continued funding for Low Income Taxpayer Clinic programs, and the Advocate makes all final funding decisions for the clinics. Between 2001 and 2012, the IRS awarded over $743,000 to the Gonzaga Tax Clinic. For 2013, the IRS has granted the Clinic multi-year funding to continue servicing low-income taxpayers with IRS conflicts.
“Not only are we providing an incredibly valuable service to taxpayers in our community, but our law students are also receiving rigorous training in practice skills by interviewing and counseling clients, negotiating settlements with the IRS, and practicing in Tax Court,” explained Jennifer Gellner, director of the Gonzaga Federal Tax Clinic.
Learning The Workings of Tax Court
Second and third year students with the Federal Tax Clinic had the opportunity, on Tuesday, to observe the Spokane Tax Court. The United States Tax Court is based in Washington D.C., and a judge visits the area only once each year. While students were available to represent pro se (self-representing) taxpayers, all the cases the students handled during this session were settled out-of-court. Instead, students were invited to watch pre-trial motion hearings, pre-trial conferences, and a trial. After the Calendar session, students were invited to visit with Judge Marvel in chambers.
Earlier this year, Gonzaga sent two students to the Alaska Calendar Court Session of the Tax Court in Anchorage.
Making Connections To Tax Court in D.C.
Next week, Gellner will also be traveling to Washington D.C. to attend the Annual Low Income Taxpayer Clinic Director Conference. While in D.C., Gellner will also be attending dinner at the United States Tax Court, making valuable connections that will help Gonzaga continue serving low-income taxpayers in years to come.