Course Description: The Federal Tax Clinic at Loyola University Chicago School of Law operates as a law office. Clients come to the Clinic through referrals from private attorneys, the American and Illinois Bar Association, social service agencies, previous clients and even the IRS. If the Director and/or the Assistant Director determines that the nature of the taxpayer's tax problem is appropriate for the Clinic to consider, that the taxpayer satisfies the "taxpayer eligibility guidelines", and that the taxpayer is committed to assisting the clinic in resolving his/her case, the clinic formally accepts the taxpayer as a client of the clinic by executing a Client Agreement. The Clinic operates as a Low-income tax Clinic as defined in IRS Publication 3319 and described in our manual Appendix A.
Educational Goals, Objectives, and Student Learning Outcomes: This course counts as an Experiential Learning and a Skills Course. Please refer to the descriptions in the course catalogue course 483 and at http://luc.edu/law/experiential/clinics_index.html .
The purpose of the Federal Tax Clinic is to educate the student in the practice of federal tax law and dispute resolution before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the United States Tax Court. The tax clinic is neither exclusively a "skills center" nor a "theory center." Instead, all the numerous components of tax law practice are integrated in the curriculum of both classroom study and legal practice with actual clients. Some of the subjects include client interviewing and counseling, negotiations, and tax litigation. Students handle cases at the IRS and Tax Court level on a clinical basis and, with the clinic attorneys, prepare all appropriate written responses to the IRS, prepare Tax Court petitions, and litigate tax cases. Federal Income Tax is a prerequisite, and Tax Audits, Procedure and Ethics is recommended. For more information about the Federal Tax Clinic, please visit our web site.
Teaching Approach: This is a hands-on, learn by doing clinic. Students are assigned existing cases as well as new potential clients to schedule an interview as soon as practicable. In developing the assigned cases the student acquires the needed evidence, assesses the issues and works under the guidance of the clinic’s directors to develop, evaluate and execute the appropriate action(s) to take in representing the client. A teamwork approach between fellow clinicians and the directors is fostered and the Directors are available as needed to give assistance. Each semester the Director secures a special order from the Director of Practice authorizing the students to practice before the Internal Revenue Service. In addition, the Director each calendar year enters into an agreement with the Chief Judge of the United States Tax Court authorizing the students to practice in the Tax Court. Consequently, depending on the needs of the assigned casework a clinical student can gain direct experience in most if not all areas of federal tax controversy work.
Class Assignments: Your primary assignments for class will consist of reading material in TWEN and related I.R.C. provisions. Related reading material may be distributed to your mail box folder in the clinic. Also, you will have a minimum 2-hour office hours scheduled for the same time each week. Once a semester you are to attend a U.S. Tax Court Calendar Call.
Class Attendance & Preparation: Class attendance is mandatory. Clinic attendance for the student’s office hours (2 hours each week) is mandatory. Attendance at one U.S. Tax Court Calendar Call is mandatory.
Your grade and the quality of your learning experience will be determined by your class attendance/participation and your casework. You are expected to attend class regularly and be fully prepared to discuss the assigned material. Students who regularly miss class violate ABA rules and may be precluded from completing the course. If you need to miss class, please let the directors know by email either in advance, or as soon thereafter as possible.
Course Requirements: Each student is responsible for making one 15 minute oral presentation to the class during the semester on a topic assigned by the Director relevant to the casework. Each student will represent a hypothetical client in two role-plays. Each student is responsible for preparing or updating a case memorandum for each case assigned and a closing memorandum or transfer memorandum for each case that remains open at the end of the semester. Each student is expected to perform the casework, class work and report time in a professional manner.
“Regular” and Engaged Participation: Class participation is an essential part of the law school experience, as well as a good introduction to the realities of legal practice in which you will often be asked to deliver an opinion orally. Consequently, we may call on students randomly to respond to questions concerning the reading, or hypotheticals presented in class. This questioning is intended to aid you in improving oral communication skills. We also encourage you to listen respectfully to the questions and comments of your classmates.
Although we believe in using technology to enhance learning, we are also aware that some technology, such as laptops and/or the internet can negatively impact learning. Commonly cited problems with laptops are that they seem to encourage verbatim transcription of class discussion, rather than focusing on most important themes, as well as distractions that occur when the laptop is used for purposes other than note-taking. Although many students believe that they can “multi-task,” studies suggest that the concept of multi-tasking is more of a myth; some new instead suggest that a more appropriate term is “constant partial attention,” which actually results in lower productivity. Accordingly, some professors, as well as entire law schools, have banned internet access and/or laptops from the classroom.
We do not believe that taking notes on laptops is necessary or even always beneficial to every student. However, we will permit students to use laptops in class if they are used responsibly for legitimate class purposes. You are not to use laptops to play games, surf the web, use email or other uses unrelated to class. In addition, please remember that if you use your laptop inappropriately, it may serve as a distraction to everyone around you who can easily see your screen. Similarly, please refrain from using other electronic devices in class, such as cell phones, iPods or tablets; you should ideally have these devices turned “off” and not be using any applications on these devices, including, but not limited to text messages.
If we find students abusing the privilege of using laptops or other electronic devices, we reserve the right to ban their use – either for individual students or the entire class. In addition, we will consider students who inappropriately use laptops to be absent from class (because they are indeed mentally absent) for the purpose of class participation.
Assessments of Student Learning:
Your final grade will be calculated based on:
PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING CAREFULLY!
The following factors will be taken into account in grading:
- Work product – 30%; This includes all written work including client correspondence, filings, documents and memoranda, as well as, the fact that you are prepared for and are effective in your interaction with clients and IRS representatives in meetings and by telephone.
- Professionalism – 20%; maintaining professional decorum with clients, IRS representatives, peers and supervising attorneys; meet commitments.
- Adherence to Tax Clinic Policies and Procedures – 20%; this includes adherence to the Tax Clinic policies and procedures. See the Tax Clinic Manual and Appendix B (eg., maintaining contemporaneous, complete and organized client files, keeping accurate time sheets).
- Class attendance, participation, presentation, and role plays – 30%. We will conduct a series of professional skills exercises (role plays) throughout the semester. Your approximate 15 minute oral presentation of a tax topic not covered directly in class also involves important professional skills. We will provide you with intensive feedback on your performance to help you to improve. Class participation is designed to give you credit for the level and quality of your engagement in class discussions. We will measure your improvement in performing these skills as 30% of your grade.
No grade will be given unless all assignments are turned in and all case work is satisfactorily completed. You should anticipate an average time commitment of 10 to 12 hours per week depending upon the case load and the exigencies in your case(s).