While taxes, accounting, and tax law send many of us running for the hills, dual degree candidates Matthew Graham and Andrew Thomas will be taking time out of their summer to run to Alaska to help low-income taxpayers in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service. Both Graham and Thomas are pursuing dual Gonzaga degrees in Law (J.D.) and Masters in Accounting (MAcc), and on June 3, the pair will spend four days assisting pro se (self-representing) taxpayers at the United States Tax Court Session for Alaska State taxpayers.
Free Legal Assistance in IRS Disputes
This assistance, which is provided free of charge to taxpayers that choose to represent themselves in disputes with the IRS, includes a variety of services. Graham and Thomas, with the guidance of Jennifer Gellner, their supervisor, could be assisting taxpayers in negotiating settlements, obtaining a continuance on their case, going to trial, or providing insight to the taxpayer as to why the IRS may be correct. Many of the cases that the students assist with end up in a negotiated settlement, though some cases do go to trial.
Meeting The Need in Alaska
While in Alaska, the students may also visit the Anchorage IRS office, the Anchorage Taxpayer Advocate Office and the Anchorage Low Income Taxpayer Clinic to discuss tax issues more common to residents of the State of Alaska. While most states receive this legal assistance from local law schools, there is no law school in Alaska. Therefore, for the last five years, Gonzaga Law Tax Clinic students have made the 2,400 mile trip to provide this service. The Gonzaga Low Income Taxpayer Clinic also provides assistance to taxpayers in the Spokane area.
Increased Funding for 2013
The Federal Tax Clinic, which is an LITC (Low Income Taxpayer Clinic), at Gonzaga is funded mostly through an IRS grant. In October of 2012, supervisor Jennifer Gellner was informed that the IRS would provide an additional three years of funding. In early May, the IRS confirmed this year’s dollar amount, and Gonzaga’s clinic will be receiving $94,000 for 2013, an increase of $34,000 from the funding made available five years ago. The Washington State Bar Association Taxation Section has also awarded $2,000 to the clinic in recognition of the work students do to represent low-income taxpayers throughout the state.
Getting Assistance from the Tax Clinic
The Gonzaga Low Income Taxpayer Clinic represents individuals in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service. If taxpayers in Spokane need assistance with a tax dispute, they can request an application by calling 509-313-5971 or 1-800-793-1722.