The Tax Law Clinic is the oldest clinical program at Chapman University's Dale E. Fowler School of Law, and we are proud to offer both trial and appellate tax clinic opportunities to our students. Through the clinic, Chapman law students have served thousands of taxpayers, saving millions of dollars in taxes since 1997.
In a recent victory, Chapman law students helped a veteran living in near poverty. The Vietnam War veteran and double amputee was being levied by the IRS seeking taxes that grew to over $100,000 because of interest and penalties. He was desperate for a resolution but did not have the thousands of dollars necessary to hire an attorney. Our clinic prepared an Offer in Compromise and based on the clients income and assets resolved his taxes for $500. This gave the veteran a fresh start in more ways than one.
The Tax Clinic
Chapman is currently one of only three law schools in California - and a very small percentage of law schools nationwide - to be awarded a federal grant to operate a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (“LITC”). The law school has been a recipient of a LITC grant award in each year since the program’s inception.
In the trial level tax clinic, law students have the chance to handle cases in many different stages of controversy including case that are in the U.S. Tax Court. Although students are under the supervision of attorney-professors, the student is expected to take responsibility for all aspects of their cases including: interviewing clients, gathering facts and evidence, performing research, and meeting with the IRS to negotiate a settlement. If settlement efforts fail, the student may have the opportunity to take the case to trial.
The clinic benefits the clients, students, IRS and the Tax Court. Clients benefit from receiving counsel and representation that they otherwise could not afford; students learn invaluable skills handling live clients while still in law school; the IRS appreciates the assistance in resolving cases at earlier stages of a controversy; and the Tax Court is pleased that our students help settle many cases that otherwise would go to trial.
The Appellate Tax Advocacy Clinic
The law school launched the Appellate Tax Advocacy Clinic course in 2008. This course lets students participate in docketed appellate tax cases conducted under the auspices of The Center for Fair Administration of Taxation. Here, students do not represent taxpayers before the IRS, but rather they participate in drafting amicus curiae ("friend of the court") briefs in significant matters that impact federal, state or local tax law.
Students conduct research on legal issues, draft appellate briefs, and, depending on the jurisdiction of the court and the nature of the case, present their brief before an appellate court.