New Beginnings for Retired Judge Henry Breithaupt
Retired Judge Henry Breithaupt brings his wealth of experience in tax law to the Lewis & Clark Law School’s Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC), providing valuable guidance and strategies to legal interns as they assist low to moderate-income taxpayers and educate them on tax management practices to prevent future controversies.
For the past 8-9 months, former Oregon Tax Court Judge Henry Breithaupt (Ret. 2018) has been volunteering with the Lewis & Clark Law School’s Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) as an advisor to its legal interns. With more than 48 years of experience in tax law, Judge Breithaupt supports the work of the LITC by collaboratively identifying fruitful strategies and research for LITC clients.
One strategy Judge Breithaupt shared that continues to prove reliable is “Step One: Start with the Statute.” Throughout Judge Breithaupt’s career, his work did not often intersect with the realities of low to moderate-income taxpayers. For example, by addressing substantive and procedural issues surrounding non-refundable and refundable tax credits, Judge Breithaupt explained that many of these tax credits were only recently adopted by Congress to alleviate financial burdens faced by low and moderate-income taxpayers. In a recent case that Judge Breithaupt oversaw, the legal intern was able to find flexibility in a tax credit statute that led to a victory in a pending court case.
New experiences are not without their challenges. Judge Breithaupt has experienced some of the barriers that LITC clients face as not only personal but professional challenges for the legal field to overcome. Generally, low to moderate-income taxpayers may not have the knowledge or experience to seek the assistance they need to resolve a tax controversy. Judge Breithaupt continues to observe this knowledge gap as he manages his expectations of LITC clients’ understanding of statutes of limitations and record-keeping habits. A key principle the LITC is built on is prevention. Judge Breithaupt highlights the collaborative work between him, LITC Director Sarah Lora, and the legal interns to educate the clients to have better tax management practices and prevent similar controversies from happening again.
Although retired, Judge Breithaupt continues his commitment to a life of learning and service to the people of Oregon. Deeply rooted in Portland, Judge Breithaupt is immensely appreciative of all the people who have influenced his professional life. Judge Breithaupt acknowledges his inspirational federal income tax teacher, Milton Ray, and former colleagues at Stoel Rives: Lewis & Clark Law School Professor John A. Bogdanski and Dean Jennifer Johnson. Judge Breithaupt also expresses gratitude to everyone at the LITC for this fulfilling opportunity to collaborate. The Clinic looks forward to its continued association with Judge Breithaupt.