Janet R. Spragens Federal Tax Clinic
Professor of Practice of Law
Director, Janet R. Spragens
Federal Tax Clinic
- Jennifer Mueller
- Marc Caplan
Sr. Administrative Assistant
Represent Taxpayers in Cases before the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Tax Court
In the Janet R. Spragens Federal Tax Clinic, student attorneys represent low income individuals who are being audited by the Internal Revenue Service. Students are often surprised to learn that low income individuals have tax problems, or that their tax returns are audited to any significant extent. In reality, thousands of low income returns are audited each year. Our clients, who frequently face barriers such as lack of language proficiency, accounting skills, education, cultural familiarity, and sophistication, often come to us terrified about what they may be about to face.
Tax clinic clients come from diverse backgrounds and walks of life: cab drivers, nurses, teachers, waiters, landscapers, daycare providers, and more. Most clients earn less than $30,000 per year. Many are single parents with young children, immigrants, or minorities. Many have small side businesses with haphazard accounting records. To them, the dollar amounts in controversy are usually overwhelming and frighteningly large.
The Janet R. Spragens Federal Tax Clinic is a litigation clinic. The clinic does not fill out current tax returns for taxpayers, do bookkeeping, or provide accounting services; rather, it offers legal representation for clients before the IRS in appeals conferences and, if the cases do not settle, in U.S. Tax Court. Among U.S. law schools, our tax clinic is relatively unique, and it gives our students a special opportunity to gain skills while filling a legal services need that few others are meeting.
Janet R. Spragens Federal Tax Clinic student attorneys meet regularly on an individual basis with the faculty supervisors to discuss cases and strategy, and they also meet weekly as a group in a three hour seminar. The seminar encompasses a group review of the cases as well as discussions of other substantive, procedural and ethical issues related to tax representation. The Janet R. Spragens Federal Tax Clinic provides skills training in client interviewing and counseling, negotiating settlements, drafting memoranda and legal documents, keeping files, and other representational skills.