Eligibility

Income Guidelines*

It is the policy of the Clinic to serve low-income taxpayers who otherwise cannot obtain suitable representation. All decisions to accept or decline to represent are made by the clinic director, associate director or supervising attorney upon recommendation by the student attorney. Generally, the clinic will handle only civil federal income or employment tax matters.

The clinic will decline representation where:

  1. The clinic lacks the expertise and/or time to handle the case;
  2. There is no economic effect on the taxpayer;
  3. The taxpayer has the ability to represent himself/herself or to obtain suitable paid representation; or
  4. Taxpayer is a group, corporation or association, unless the entity is primarily composed of persons eligible for clinic services and if it provides information showing that it lacks and has no practical means of obtaining funds to retain private counsel.

It is the policy of the clinic that if an eligible client becomes ineligible through a change in circumstances, the clinic shall discontinue representation if the change in circumstances is likely to continue so that the client can afford private legal representation and discontinuation is not inconsistent with the attorney’s professional responsibilities. In unusual circumstances, cases may be handled that are generally not handled if there are no suitable alternative resources available to the client but where:

  1. There is significant potential harm to the client;
  2. There is immediate need for action;
  3. There are unusual and important educational issues involved; or
  4. There are other unusual and compelling circumstances.

After considering such factors as cost of living, number of clients able to be served and the availability and cost of alternative legal services, it is the policy of the clinic to use 250% of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines as the reference income guideline for determining client eligibility. The guidelines shall be updated on a yearly basis to conform to Federal Poverty Income Guidelines.

For potential clients whose income is over the Federal Income Guidelines, the clinic shall consider current income prospects, extraordinary medical expenses, fixed debts or obligations, child care, transportation or other expenses necessary for employment, expenses associated with age or physical infirmity or other extraordinary factors that have a significant effect on ability to obtain legal assistance.

It is the policy of the clinic to consider assets, both liquid and non-liquid, of a person applying for Clinic services. After considering the economy of the Atlanta area and the relative cost of living in Atlanta so as to ensure the availability of services to those in the greatest economic and legal need, the following factors shall also be considered:

  1. Liquid assets: Generally, liquid assets may not exceed the amount needed to provide for basic living needs;
  2. Non-liquid assets: Generally, the limit for the program shall be $25,000, which shall not include the principal residence of a taxpayer. The limit shall include all family assets but shall not include any family assets to which a taxpayer has no access;
  3. Neither asset limit shall include equity value in work-related equipment that is essential to the employment or self-employment of an individual or family member; and
  4. While special consideration is given to the needs of the elderly, institutionalized, and handicapped, the program does not adopt a separate assets limit for those groups.

2014 Income Guidelines

Size of Family Unit Maximum Income
1
$ 29,175
2
$ 39,325
3
$ 49,475
4
$ 59,625
5
$ 69,775
6
$ 79,925
7
$ 90,075
8
$100,225

For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $10,150 for each additional person.

For purposes of this program, a family unit is defined as an unrelated individual or a family.

An unrelated individual is a person 15 years old or over who is not living with persons related by birth, marriage or adoption.

A family is a group of two or more persons related by birth, marriage, or adoption who live together. However, if related individuals live together, but the person seeking assistance from the clinic is financially independent, then that person may be treated as a family unit. If two unrelated individuals live together, they constitute two family units

*Source:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201
Telephone: 202-619-0257
Toll Free: 1-877-696-677

Federal Register,  January 22, 2014

Amount in Controversy

The amount in controversy for any taxable year generally must not exceed the amount specified in IRC § 7463 (currently $50,000). The amount in controversy includes penalties, but does not include interest.

If the student recommends that the clinic accept a case in which the amount in controversy exceeds the amount specified in IRC § 7463, the student must include the reasoning why the case merits the exception and obtain approval from from the clinic Director or Associate Director. A copy of the approved recommendation memo is given to the clinic Administrative Assistant.

Conflict of Interest

Please see the section of this web site that deals with conflicts of interest. The Clinic has a policy to avoid any actual or perceived conflict of interest.  In order to ensure that the interest of a prospective client will not conflict with the interest of a current or former current client, the clinic will check for any conflict by both questioning the prospective client and checking its clinic’s data base.  The prospective client will be advised of any conflict of interest. It may be possible to resolve some of those conflicts.