July 01, 2020

Pro Bono & Tax Clinics Committee

Committee Leadership

Co-Chairs

Caleb Smith

Sarah Lora

Vice-Chairs

Tamara A. Borland

Mandi Matlock

Nancy Rossner

Janice Shih

James Steele
 

About the Committee

Welcome to the Pro Bono and Tax Clinics Committee webpage. This committee carries out a number of functions in an effort to assist low-income taxpayers and start up/small exempt organizations. The history of this committee can be traced to 1976 when the Tax Section first created a formal committee to focus on the needs of low-income taxpayers. At that time the focus of the committee was on assisting section members in connecting with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) which was a relatively new initiative of the IRS. Almost four decades later, the committee still has a strong commitment to VITA with a particular interest in promoting the Tax Section's goal to assist with military VITA programs.

In addition to promoting pro bono assistance through VITA programs, this committee seeks to address the tax liability and collection issues that impact low-income taxpayers. One of the initiatives of the committee with respect to low-income taxpayer representation concerns pro se taxpayers who petition the United States Tax Court. The committee, under past Chairs Andy Roberson, Keith Fogg, and George Willis, worked with clinics and local bar groups to ensure that a local member of the tax bar or a tax clinic are available at calendar calls in every city where the court sits to assists unrepresented taxpayers.

Another recent initiative is the Adopt-a-Base program. The Tax Section is partnering with the military and the IRS to help train service members become volunteer return preparers through VITA. Many military installations use VITA so members of the armed forces and their families have access to free tax preparation services. 

Under past Chair Andy Roberson the committee undertook a new initiative, Partnering for Pro Bono. Through this initiative, the Tax Section connects nonprofit low-income taxpayer clinics with law firms who provide assistance through direct representation of low-income taxpayers, or through research support, mentorship, and advice.

In addition to these specific initiatives, the committee sponsors programs and workshops that educate low-income taxpayer representatives and public officials on issues impacting low-income taxpayers, including the impact of Internal Revenue Service and Department of Treasury guidance.

In order to effectively carry out our committee's goals, it is necessary for many people to volunteer to work on committee programs and projects. The committee leaders are listed on this page. If you see an issue impacting low-income taxpayers that needs to be addressed, please contact one of the committee leaders. We would also welcome your assistance in being the voice of this underrepresented segment of our population. For more information regarding current programs visit the Pro Bono Opportunities webpage.

The other committee leaders and I look forward to seeing you at Tax Section's meetings and to talking to you individually or in the Pro Bono & Tax Clinics Tax Connect Community.

Join us on Tax Connect! Details below.

Join us on Tax Connect! Details below.

PBTC on Tax Connect

Tax Connect is an online and email platform for networking, exchanging ideas, getting advice, and interacting with fellow lawyers and legal professionals with whom you share similar areas of interest. The Pro Bono & Tax Clinic Community is unique in that Section membership is not required to join. If you have an ABA login you are welcome to take part! It is a robust community with a very active discussion board.

Check out the Pro Bono & Tax Clinics Connect Community and get involved today!

To learn more about ABA Tax Connect view the User Guide.

Pro Bono Shout Out

The Section thanks its members for their continued commitment to pro bono. The high level of dedication from individual members and firms is greatly appreciated.

For the last four years the Section has partnered with the military and IRS to bring free tax preparation services to our United States Armed Forces. Section of Taxation members in Washington, D.C.; San Antonio, TX; San Diego, CA; Richmond, VA; and Baltimore, MD train military personnel to prepare tax returns on military bases. In particular the Section would like to thank Erica Brady, Francine Lipman, Ronald Cluett, Joshua T. Brady, Michael Nicolini, Kevin Jacobs, Keith Sieverding, Keith Kost, Katy David, Heather Szajda, and William Hellams for their commitment to pro bono and to working with Military VITA.

Section member Caroline Ciraolo worked with her firm, Rosenberg | Martin | Greenberg LLP, to sponsor Ft. Meade. Associates and partners of the firm's tax practice will work to provide instruction on tax issues to military personnel. This is the first time a firm has committed to sponsor an entire base and the Section hopes that other firms will follow.

In addition, the Section is grateful to Section member Sheri Dillon and her firm, Bingham McCutchen LLP, for hosting the Low Income Taxpayer Workshop and reception on Monday, December 12 at their D.C. offices. Bingham hosted 100 low income taxpayer clinic practitioners from across the country to provide valuable training on representing their clients before the IRS.

Thank you to all Section members who generously commit their time to Pro Bono!

Joining Section of Taxation Committees

The Tax Section has over thirty member-led committees and Section Members can join as many as they would like. Each committee deals with a common practice area, such as Individual & Family Taxation, Exempt Organizations, Employee Benefits, etc.. A full list is available on our Committees & Task Forces landing page. If you are interested in getting involved, learn more about Section Membership here.

Our committees provide a great opportunity to network and to get involved. Committee members create robust and current CLE sessions for our conferences, participate in government comment projects, create committee newsletters or publications, and more. Feel free to Contact staff with any questions!