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Tax Law

Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic

Lewis & Clark Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) gives students the opportunity to represent taxpayers of lesser means in controversies with the Internal Revenue Service, including audits and appeals before that agency, trials and hearings before the U.S. Tax Court, and appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Student participants work under the supervision of an experienced tax attorney who is a full-time member of the law school faculty. The LITC accepts for representation only those cases that maximize student opportunities to learn and develop practical lawyering skills.

The LITC is part of the Small Business Legal Clinic, which provides students with hands-on experience in developing lawyering skills. The clinic operates out of its own office space in downtown Portland. Student participants interview and counsel clients; conduct factual investigations; solve problems; draft documents; negotiate cases; and represent clients at administrative hearings, in trials, and on appeals.

Professor Jan Pierce, director of the Lewis & Clark Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic, previously served for 27 years as an attorney for the Internal Revenue Service, including many years as a supervising attorney. He has been the leader of our tax clinic since the day it opened in the spring of 2000.

Free Legal Advice For Tax Problems

The Lewis & Clark Legal Clinic provides low-income taxpayers with free legal representation in Federal tax matters. Clients are represented by Law School student interns who are trained and directly supervised by the Tax Program Director who has 27 years of experience as an attorney with the Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”).

Call the Low Income Taxpayers Clinic at 503-768-6500 to make an appointment to discuss your tax matter. The Tax Clinic is located downtown Portland, and is accessible by public transportation.

The Tax Clinic is independent from the IRS. All telephone conversations and in person conferences are treated with the utmost confidentiality.

Types Of Tax Problems For Which You May Seek Representation

You have received a letter from the IRS telling you that your return is being examined (audited)

The letter may say that the IRS is reviewing your filing status, such as Head of Household, or certain claimed deductions or credits, such as dependency exemptions for a child, business deductions, Earned Income Credit, or Child Care Credit. Unless you provide documents to the IRS to prove that your questioned claims are correct, the IRS may disallow your filing status, deductions, or credits. The Tax Clinic can help you understand what you need to provide, how to present it to the IRS, and represent you before the IRS.

You have received a notice that the IRS has filed a lien against you, or a notice that the IRS intends to levy on your property

The Tax Clinic can assist you in asking for a Collection Due Process Hearing to determine whether your property can be subjected to a lien, or levied upon, as well as assist you in working out other ways to pay tax debts, such as through an installment agreement or by submitting an Offer in Compromise (an offer to settle your tax liability). The Clinic can also represent you in Tax Court if such review is necessary to assert your rights.

You have received a notice from the IRS indicating that the IRS has determined that there is a “deficiency”in your taxes, and that you have 90 days to file a petition with the Tax Court

If you do not file within that period, you lose the right to have a court decide the matter before the taxes are paid. The Tax Clinic can file a petition with the U.S. Tax Court and represent you in court.

You have received a bill from the IRS for past due taxes that are the result of income your spouse earned and of which you did not have knowledge

You may qualify for full or partial relief as an Innocent Spouse. The Tax Clinic can assist you in determining whether you should apply for Innocent Spouse relief, file the forms necessary to elect such relief, and represent you before the IRS in conferences to determine whether you will obtain such relief, and in Tax or Federal District Court, if necessary.

The above are not inclusive in terms of how the Tax Clinic can help you. They are just some of the more common examples of how the Clinic can help. If you receive a letter, notice, determination or other communication from the IRS, and you believe that you qualify as a low income taxpayer, give the Clinic a call.

General Eligibility Guidelines

Generally, to qualify for free representation, the amount of income you earn or expect to earn during 2014 must fall within the following guidelines:

Size of Family Maximum Family Income
1 $29,175
2 $39,325
3 $49,475
4 $59,625
5 $69,775
6 $79,925
7 $90,075

 

If your family size is more than 7 persons, add $4,020 for each additional member .

How Do I Know If The Tax Clinic Will Represent Me

The Tax Clinic does not accept walk-in clients. Please telephone the clinic about an initial appointment. If you receive an appointment time, you will attend an initial conference.

You will be asked to bring with you whatever communication that you have received from the IRS - that is, the communication that generated the call to the Tax Clinic.

At the initial conference you will meet with a law student who will take enough information from you to determine your eligibility for the program and enough information to determine your tax problem.

After that meeting, the student will meet with the supervising attorney to discuss whether or not to represent you.

Some of the factors that will be considered in deciding whether to represent you are: whether the Clinic has the expertise to adequately represent you; the likely educational value of the matter to the student; the amount of time the student or other students in the Tax Clinic will have to work on your matter; and, can we make a difference.

You will normally be informed immediately after the initial conference whether the Clinic will represent you.