Georgia State and Harvard Tax Clinics Team Up on Amicus Brief

As part of its mission, the Philip C. Cook Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic represents low-income taxpayers in controversies with the Internal Revenue Service with the goal of maximizing financial well-being and protecting taxpayer rights.

This summer, the Philip C. Cook Low-Income Tax Clinic Director, Ted Afield, along with two student attorneys, Misty Gann and Nikki Bhakhri worked with the Harvard Federal Tax Clinic, to co-author an Amicus Brief filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The brief described to the court how low-income taxpayers, seeking to contest certain penalties, suffer when they are required to pay the penalties in-full before being allowed a court hearing.  The Georgia State Law and Harvard Law low-income tax clinics sought to illustrate to the court that the statute, which resulted in the full payment rule, was created for a category of penalties covered in very isolated circumstances.  The list of penalties has since been expanded exponentially by the Internal Revenue Service and this expansion reaches a greater number of taxpayers, many of which Congress did not intend to be affected by the full-payment rule. In practice, low-income taxpayers are disadvantaged because they are unable to pay in full, thus barred from judicial review. The immunity of review the Internal Revenue Service is afforded in these instances can have devastating effects on low-income taxpayers.