National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson visited Villanova University School of Law (VLS) on March 12 to speak to students, faculty and guests about her remarkable career and her ongoing commitment to public service. Prior to her appointment as National Taxpayer Advocate in 2001, Ms. Olson founded and served as Executive Director of The Community Tax Law Project, the first independent low income taxpayer clinic in the United States. Ms. Olson’s appearance coincided with VLS’s annual celebration of the IRS, which is associated with the adoption of the modern income tax in March of 1913 following ratification of the 16th amendment.
In her current role, Ms. Olson serves as an advocate for taxpayers to the IRS and Congress. She leads the Taxpayer Advocate Service, a nationwide organization of approximately 2,000 taxpayer advocates who help U.S. taxpayers resolve problems and work with the IRS to correct systemic and procedural problems. The mission of the agency is to ensure that every taxpayer is treated fairly, and that individuals know and understand their rights. Ms. Olson’s work as the "voice of the taxpayer" at the IRS has won national acclaim. The non-profit Tax Foundation presented her with its Public Sector Distinguished Service Award in 2007 and Accounting Today magazine has named her one of the Top 100 “Most Influential People” in the accounting profession each year since 2004.
Nina Olson, center, with VLS tax and clinical faculty
(l to r): Linda Vines, Les Book, Keith Fogg, Dveera Segal
VLS is home to a nationally recognized Tax Program which offers students an experience that few law schools can match, powerfully combining comprehensive course offerings, a nationally recognized graduate tax program, and a renowned federal tax clinic. Students who work in the Villanova Federal Tax Clinic gain real-world client experience, while providing much needed legal service to lower-income taxpayers with disputes before the IRS and in Federal Courts.
Ms. Olson’s visit was part of Access to Justice, a series of events at VLS celebrating the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the landmark Supreme Court case that established the right to counsel in criminal proceedings and sparked the creation of legal clinics in the U.S.
Click here to learn more about Ms. Olson and her work with the Taxpayer Advocate Service.