FEDERAL TAX CLINIC
Students in Villanova Law’s Federal Tax Clinic provide free legal representation to low-income individuals in disputes with the IRS, both before the IRS and in federal court.
Students work in teams to represent their clients and help them navigate the complex American tax system. Cases include audits, examinations, administrative appeals, collection matters and cases before the United States Tax Court and Federal District Court.
Typically handling about 10 cases per team, Federal Tax Clinic students serve as the primary advocates for their clients and have direct responsibility for their cases. Students also give presentations and teach tax topics to community groups and nonprofit organizations to help taxpayers know their rights and responsibilities. Student representation has resulted in substantial community benefits, including thousands of dollars of refunds to taxpayers, relief from joint liability for innocent spouses, and the reduction of tax liabilities through successful compromises of liabilities based upon taxpayer financial hardship.
Federal Tax Clinic students play a crucial role in making sure the tax system is fair for individuals who otherwise would have difficulty understanding the bureaucracy on their own. Their work is impactful and sometimes life changing.
- Interviewing and Counseling
- Case Planning
- Case Management and Prioritization
- Fact Development and Legal Research
- Legal Writing and Client Communication
- Oral Advocacy
Eligibility and Case Priorities
The Clinic uses an intake screening process to determine if taxpayers are eligible for representation. During the intake process potential clients are screened for income eligibility and information is gathered about the controversy.
The Federal Tax Clinic helps clients with incomes under 250% of the federal poverty level. In 2020, this is $2,658 per month, plus $933 for each additional person living with the client (for instance, $4,525 for a household of three).
If a client meets the income guidelines, if the amount in controversy does not exceed $50,000 per tax period and if the Director of the Clinic determines that the case provides substantial educational value for the Clinic students, then the client is accepted for a consultation. The scope of any representation will be determined by the student representatives under the guidance of the Director.
When the clinic is at maximum capacity, a wait list of potential clients is maintained. Goals impacting a client’s priority on the wait list include:
- Maximizing the Clinic’s impact in protecting and advancing the legal rights of low-income taxpayers
- Providing a rich educational experience for law students
- Promoting administrative and judicial economy
Note: The Villanova Federal Tax Clinic provides legal representation only. We do not prepare tax returns or ITIN applications, or provide bookkeeping or accounting services. Representation from a tax clinic will not result in the IRS giving preferential treatment in handling your problem and will not affect your rights before the IRS.
"Working in the Tax Clinic was one the best experiences I had in law school. The Clinic gave me an opportunity to get the full experience of working as a lawyer. In other externships, I was limited to performing very specific roles and I never had an opportunity to interact with clients. In the Clinic, I was allowed to not only interact with my clients, but take the lead on planning their cases. This client-focused work made my experience in the Tax Clinic an invaluable part of my legal education."
- Kelsey Simchick '20