1. Check Each Case File For Critical Deadlines
As soon as you receive a case, read the fle thoroughly and review the Amicus File Summary.
The Transition Memo (located on Side I of the case file) and the File Summary in Amicus should serve as a guide on how to proceed, but you should not rely on it as an infallible course of action. It is possible that either or both may omit pertinent information. Take a fresh approach and determine what the next action should be, consult your supervisor and proceed accordingly. The semester moves quickly, so if you are able to get started early, you will have a better opportunity to resolve some of your cases or bring them near resolution before semester’s end.
When you read the case file, be sure to read between the lines and look for subtle investigative leads and less obvious legal and factual issues. Everything essential to the case does not appear in plain view in the file. As you read the file, consider what the legal and factual implications are of what you read.
In cases in which a statutory notice (30-day, 90-day, or Determination Letter) was received, calculate the date by which a response must be made unless such date is already indicated on the letter itself. If a petition is required, refer to the Clinic website and then consult with your supervisor immediately. Petitions may be somewhat complicated, and you might require assistance. All petitions must be submitted to Professor Blasi for review and must be signed by Professor Blasi and Professor Timm.
If the case file contains a Notice of Lien or a Notice of Intent to Levy, consider filing an immediate appeal within the statutory 30-day period. If that period has expired and no stay (suspension of collection activity) has been obtained, contact the IRS to obtain a stay on the account. This will give you some time to gather information from the client and determine the proper course of action. An extension of the 30-day period may not be granted by the IRS.
2. Process A Form 2848, Power of Attorney (“POA”), For Each Client
Form 2848, Power of Attorney, (“POA”) is required to be completed and filed with the IRS before the IRS will discuss a case with someone other than the taxpayer.
The taxpayer (and taxpayer’s spouse, if a joint return was filed) must sign and date this form. The form must also be signed by the student attorney, the Clinic Directors. The dated signatures of the parties must be within 45 days of one another.
The POA must follow the format established by the IRS for Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics posted in the copy room, and the student’s “Special Orders” must be attached to the copy sent to the IRS.
Each existing client file should contain either a blank (client signed but no student signature) POA. Follow the appropriate procedures below based on what is, or is not, contained in the file:
Blank (client signed but no student signature) POA in the file:
- Complete page 1 with your name and CAF number, and sign and date page 2 at the bottom on the line next to “QLITC Special Orders”; a partially completed POA can be found on the “I” drive and is named “POA-2012-P1.pdf”.
- Submit the signed POA to the Associate Director for his signature; and
- Fax the POA along with the Authorization for Student Tax Practice to the CAF Unit.
No Blank POA in the file:
- Verify whether or not the last student attorney sent a POA to the client by examining that student’s end of semester transition letter to the client on Side II of the file, and check entries in Amicus;
- If a POA was sent by the previous student attorney, follow up with the client when you contact him/her; or
- If a POA was not sent by the previous student attorney, send the client a new one along with a business reply mail envelope and letter introducing yourself. See Form 2848 under for additional information on completing this form.
Instructions for Completing Forms 2848
- A partially completed POA may be found on the “I” drive and is named “POA-2012-P1.pdf”;
- In Part I, No. 1, fill in the taxpayer’s name, address, and Social Security number;
- In Part I, No. 2 (Representatives) fill in the Clinic Director’s name, CAF number, and the Clinic’s address telephone and fax number in the first blank space (this info is already contained in the partially completed form on the “I” drive);
- Fill in the Associate Director’s name, CAF number, and the Clinic’s address, telephone and fax number in the second blank space in Part 1, No. 2 (this info is already contained in the partially completed form on the “T” drive);
- Fill in your name, followed by “Student Attorney,” your unique CAF number and the Clinic’s address, telephone and fax number in the third blank space under Part I, No. 2 on the form;
- Enter type of tax, appropriate form number and year in dispute in Part I, number 3 (Note: if multiple years are involved, do not use dashes (“-”). You must use the words “thru” or “through” instead. ex. 2001 thru 2006); Include all years from the year in question to the current year.
- Obtain a partially completed Page 2 of the form located in trays near each fax machine. (Rooms 155, 162 and 163)
- If they have not already done so, have the taxpayer sign (but not date) the partially completed Page 2, Part II, number 9;
- In the space identified by “LITC”sign your name just above “Student Attorney” at the bottom of the partially completed page 2;
- Date the form in the space provided next to your signature;
- Submit the form to the Associate Director for review and signature; and
- Attach the “Authorization for Student Tax Practice” letter located in the trays near the fax machines and fax it to CAF directly. The number for the CAF unit is pre-programmed in the facsimile and instructions are labeled on the machine itself.
- Review a previously completed POA in a case file for guidance.
- When completing a POA for the client’s signature, always include the client’s name and address on the front of the POA. Without such identification, the POA could potentially be returned with an illegible signature and thus unidentifiable as to the particular client to whom it belongs. Additionally, completing this information and sending it to the client for review allows the client to make any corrections if necessary.
- All POA’s sent to the IRS must be accompanied by the approval letter from the Taxpayer Advocate’s Office and the request for Authorization for Student Tax Practice (collectively referred to as “Authorizations”). Authorizations are found in the trays near all the fax machines. Pre-addressed fax covers to the CAF Unit can be found in the marked tray at the same location as the Authorizations. The number has been pre-programmed in the fax machine as #01. Retain all fax confirmation sheets (for this and all other faxed documents).
- If an IRS agent tells you he or she can’t find your name on the system as your client’s representative offer to fax to them directly.
3. Contact Your Clients
Contact all of your clients within five working days after the first class or after the case is assigned to you. For those clients whose files are marked “Spanish Only,” make arrangements with the Clinic Administrative Coordinator to provide translation services during your communications. Before calling the Spanish speaking only client, confirm the availability of the Clinic Administrative Coordinator. These telephone calls should take place from the student attorney’s workstation and should be orally translated as close to verbatim as possible. Any confirming correspondence should be drafted by the student attorney and translated by the Clinic Administrative Coordinator. Copies of both the English and Spanish versions should be saved to the electronic file and the paper file.
Record any phone communications in Amicus. Clients are aware of the semester change and are anxiously waiting to hear from their new student attorney. During the initial telephone contact with the client:
- Establish when the best time is for you to reach her;
- Inform the client of the best time you can be reached at the Clinic;
- Do not provide your phone number (home or mobile) to a client unless exceptional circumstances exist;
- Confirm the client’s current address and phone number for the file;
- Ask the client if she has received anything from the IRS since her last contact with the prior student attorney; and
- Inform the client approximately when you plan to get in touch with him/her again.
You will undoubtedly have questions regarding procedural and/or substantive issues with your cases. If you have questions regarding the particulars of a case, you may contact the student attorney who handled the case last semester. You may also see your supervisor, a GRA or second semester student with your questions after you have reviewed the file.
Instead of going to the Clinic Director or the Associate Director with a question, approach them with a proposed solution or thoughtful alternatives. In other words, do preliminary research, investigation or inquiry and reason through the problem in order to be prepared to discuss the relative merits of the proposed solution with them. Most of the information you will need regarding the procedural and substantive issues of your cases is contained within this website, so become familiar with it and use it diligently.
5. Update The Amicus File Summary
Update the Amicus File Summary, if applicable. You may find that after your review of the file, contact with the client, and consultation with Clinic Personnel that changes should be made to the File Summary. If so, update the File Summary accordingly and it will serve you well throughout the semester as a guide to the client’s issues as well as a compass by which to navigate your client’s case toward resolution.
6. Refer to Office Procedures Webpage
Refer to he Office Procedures page for the processes of Closing Cases, End of Semester procedures, English as Second Language (ESL) Clients, File Maintenance, Mailing Procedures, Opening a Case, Saving Documents, Scheduling Interviews, Shredding documents, Weekly To-Do’s, etc.