The Philip C. Cook Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic participated in the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Atlanta Office of Chief Counsel’s inaugural Pro Bono Day on Saturday, August 26, 2017. This day was designated to give taxpayers who have an upcoming case before the United States Tax Court an opportunity to talk with Counsel’s attorneys, as well as representatives from the IRS’s Collections and Appeals divisions, about settling their cases. The Clinic’s attorneys and students were onsite to provide consultations for taxpayers, explain their rights and responsibilities under the Internal Revenue Code, and review documentation provided by the taxpayers to support their claims.
As a result of the Clinic and IRS’s joint efforts, 26 cases were reviewed. Of those 26 cases, 21 cases were resolved and settlements were reached. Surveys were completed by taxpayers about their experience, and the overwhelming majority of them felt meeting with Clinic representatives was helpful. The students also enjoyed working with the taxpayers and considered the experience a tremendous learning opportunity.
“It was interesting to see how things worked on the other side. I also enjoyed the experience of working with the taxpayers and being able to immediately resolve their issue with Counsel,” said student Elijah Davis a third year law student and Tax Clinic Graduate Research Assistant.
According to Tax Clinic II student William Spencer-Hampton, “We do great work here in the Tax Clinic, but the downside is that the process can sometimes take months to see the result of your efforts. However, with Pro Bono Day we were able to immediately see within an hour a positive resolution. To see the look on someone’s face when we resolved their issue was incredible. It’s rare you get to change someone’s life in an hour of work, but we were able to do that on Saturday.”
The following members of the Clinic participated in Pro Bono Day: Neekul Bhakhri, Elijah Davis, Reena Patel, Shivani Patel, Robert Pratt, Derek Smith, William Spencer-Hampton, and Professors Ted Afield, Tameka Lester, Bonnie Rich and Bill Timm.