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.
The Clinic class meets for 2 hours each week. The class is comprised of lectures, simulations, and class projects which emphasize the understanding of various Internal Revenue Service documents, forms and correspondence. Additionally, three (3) consecutive office hours in the Clinic are required. In total, expect to work a minimum of 35 hours for each hour of course credit for an average of 10 - 12 hours per week
This course also covers interview skills, negotiation techniques and stresses the absolute necessity of taxpayer confidentiality when representing a taxpayer before the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Tax Court.
A complete memorandum of law must be prepared or updated for each client. A simulated financial statement and Offer-in-Compromise negotiation must be completed on a hypothetical taxpayer situation. Additionally, we conduct a simulated defense of a taxpayer before the IRS Appeals or Chief Counsel's Office and each student drafts a petition to the United States Tax Court again based on a hypothetical taxpayer.
Educational Goals, Objectives, and Student Learning Outcomes
This course fulfills Loyola’s requirements for experiential learning and skills.
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.
Prerequisite and recommended courses
Federal Income Tax is a required prerequisite.
This course 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 directors secures a special order from the Director of Practice authorizing the students to practice before the IRS. Each year, the Director enters into an agreement with the Chief Judge of the United States Tax Court authorizing students to practice in the Tax Court. 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, attendance, and grading
Class attendance is mandatory. Your primary assignments for class will consist of reading material in TWEN and related Internal Revenue Code provisions. Related reading material may be distributed to your mailbox folder in the clinic. Also, you will have required office hours scheduled for a 2-hour block at the same time each week. Once each semester you are required to attend a U.S. Tax Court Calendar Call.
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 and violate ABA rules may be precluded from completing the course. You must inform the directors of any class absences.
- Prepare for and attend class by reading the assigned materials.
- Complete your 3-hour office hours scheduled for the same time each week.
- Attend a U.S. Tax Court Calendar Call.
- Make one 15 minute oral presentation to the class on a topic assigned by the Director or students may be requested to present a tax topic to a group of low-income, or other individuals.
- Represent a hypothetical client in two role-plays: tax audit and collection alternative.
- Draft a Tax Court Petition for hypothetical client.
- Prepare and/or update a case memorandum for each case assigned.
- Prepare a closing memorandum or transfer memorandum at the end of the semester.
- Maintain well organized case files.
- Maintain and update Legal Server, our case management system.
- Meet with a director weekly to give status of your work.
- Attend an exit interview.
Assessments of student learning
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).