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December 20, 2022 The Tax Lawyer

Practical Considerations in Starting and Operating an Academic Low-Income Tax Clinic

Vol. 76, No. 1 - Fall 2022

by Amy Spivey and Manoj Viswanathan


Low-income taxpayer clinics (“LITCs”) provide legal assistance to underserved clients with active federal tax controversies, conduct educational outreach to low-income and English-as-a-second-language taxpayers, and work to ensure the fairness and integrity of the tax system. Despite the availability of IRS grant funding for LITCs and the alignment of LITC goals with the core values that underlie clinical legal education, a relatively small percentage of U.S. law schools currently operates an LITC. Moreover, many law school LITCs have closed within the past ten years, demonstrating that, even if started, academic LITCs are challenging to sustain.

This Article incorporates the authors’ experiences in launching and directing the UC Hastings Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic: (1) to demonstrate the value an LITC can add to both a law school’s clinical offerings and its tax curriculum; (2) to give prospective LITC founders factors to consider in deciding whether to start an academic LITC; and (3) to provide guidance on how to effectively launch and operate an academic LITC.

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