Tax Court Clinic Guidelines

Preamble

Many accredited law schools operate academic tax clinics (academic tax clinics) that provide assistance to low-income and unrepresented taxpayers.

Academic tax clinics help taxpayers to comply with the Internal Revenue Code and to deal appropriately with the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal courts. The United States Tax Court (the Court) recognizes the important assistance that academic tax clinics provide to otherwise unrepresented taxpayers.

For academic clinics which agree to adhere to the requirements stated herein, the Court includes standard information about the clinic in mailings to petitioners and permits law students enrolled in academic tax clinics to participate in Court hearings and trials.

The Court will apply the following requirements with regard to recognition of academic tax clinics and student participation in proceedings before the Court.

Requirements

Sec. 1.Standards for Recognition of Academic Tax Clinics

To be recognized by the Court, an academic tax clinic shall:

a.    Constitute a clinical program offered by a law school accredited by the American Bar Association, in which a student receives credit(s) for academic and practice advocacy training.

An academic clinic shall be supervised by a director who shall serve as a point of contact for communications to and from the Court. If the director is an adjunct member of the faculty or part-time member of the staff of the sponsoring law school, the signature of a law school administrative official is required on the letter to the Chief Judge (see sec. 1.e.).

b.    Establish guidelines for screening cases, including therein the objectives of public service and  judicial and administrative economy. An academic tax clinic’s guidelines should be interpreted so that assistance is offered, as appropriate, to low-income taxpayers who have filed a petition with
the Court or who expect to do so.

c.     Inform all persons associated with the academic tax clinic that the director is personally responsible at all times to the Court and to the taxpayer/petitioner for meeting deadlines, monitoring case preparation, ensuring full compliance with the Court’s Rules of Practice and
Procedure and with orders issued by the Court, and, in general, properly preparing a case for hearing, trial, or other disposition.

d.     Comply with the U.S. Tax Court Requirements for Nonacademic Clinical Programs if the academic clinic is associated with a nonacademic tax clinic

e.     Submit to the Chief Judge, on or before February 15 of each year, a letter which includes:
(1) the name, address, Tax Court Bar number and contact information (including the e-mail address) of the clinic director and clinic practitioners;
(2) the place(s) of trial served by the academic clinic;
(3) Whether the academic clinic would like its stuffer notice to be sent to taxpayers in regular tax cases, small tax cases or both;
(4) An updated one page stuffer notice that the Court can use to notify taxpayers of the availability of the clinic services for the coming year.
(5) A statement from the academic clinic will comply with these Requirements;
(6) A copy of the electronic link to the academic clinic’s guidelines as described in 1.b. above;
(7) Whether students are enrolled or otherwise participating in the clinical program spring/summer/fall semester(s), or year round
(8) a.  an approximate number of taxpayers with cases pending in the Court with whom the academic clinic consulted and;
b.  the number of taxpayers for whom the academic clinic entered an appearance during the calendar year preceding the submission of the letter; and
(9) any suggestions that the academic clinic may offer for better assisting low-income taxpayers in their interactions with the Court.

The letter to the Chief Judge and updated stuffer notice referred to in this provision may be submitted to the Court in paper form or, if in PDF format, as an attachment to an e-mail using
the Contact Us link.

f.        Immediately inform the Chief Judge of any material changes in the information submitted to
the Court pursuant to section 1.e., above.

Sec. 2.

Appearance and Representation

A petition, subsequent pleading, motion, or other paper may be filed with the Court through an academic tax clinic under the following circumstances:

  1. In any case in which a petition is filed with the Court through an academic clinic, the counsel’s name appearing first on the petition shall be that of the director or clinic practitioner, who shall be designated lead counsel in the case, unless another practitioner who is a member of the Bar of the Court is designated in the petition as lead counsel. The names, Bar numbers, and signatures of other practitioners who are members in good standing of the Bar of the Court may appear on the petition, but the names of students may not so appear. A student may not sign a document submitted to the Court for filing. However, the names of students may appear in the petition or other documents filed in the case to the extent provided in section 3.d. below.
  2. If a petition has been filed with the Court, and the petitioner is not represented by counsel, an entry of appearance shall be filed with the Court pursuant to Rule 24(a)(3), Tax Court Rules of Practice and Procedure, signed by the director or clinic practitioner, if appropriate, or by any other practitioner who is a member of the Bar of the Court who may be designated as lead counsel in the case.
  3. All pleadings, motions, stipulations, and other papers (subsequent to the petition) submitted to the Court for filing shall be reviewed and signed by the lead counsel as described in subsections (a) and (b) above.
  4. A director, clinic practitioner, or other lead counsel that finds it necessary and/or appropriate to withdraw from a case or effectuate a substitution of counsel must comply with the requirements of Rule 24(c) and (d), Tax Court Rules of Practice and Procedure.
  5. All pleadings, motions, stipulations, notices of trial, and other Court papers shall be brought to the personal attention of the clinic director or clinic practitioner, including situations where another practitioner is acting as lead counsel. When necessary, the Clerk of the Court will make service of any papers, including orders and notices of trial, only upon the lead counsel in accordance with Rule 21(b)(2), Tax Court Rules of Practice and Procedure.
  6. The director, clinic practitioner, or lead counsel are the only persons who should make contact with the Court or the Clerk of the Court in a case described in these requirements. A student participant may not contact the Court concerning a case described in these requirements.

Sec. 3.  

Student Participation in Court Proceedings

If the requirements set forth above are satisfied, the Court will permit students who are enrolled in an academic tax clinic for credit and who are in good standing with the academic institution to participate in proceedings before the Court pursuant to the following procedures:

  1. Lead counsel who intends to request permission for a student to participate in proceedings before the Court shall obtain from the petitioner advance written consent for the student to participate in the case. Although academic clinics should retain a copy of the written consent in each case file, there is no need to submit the consent to the Court.
  2. When a case described in these requirements is called for hearing or trial, lead counsel shall answer the calendar call, advise the Court whether the case is ready for hearing or trial, and introduce any student enrolled in the academic clinic who seeks permission to participate in the proceedings.
  3. If the Court permits a student to participate in a case upon compliance with subsections (a) and (b), lead counsel shall remain in the courtroom at petitioner’s counsel table at all times during the hearing or trial of the case. A student who is permitted to participate in a case may, at the discretion of the presiding Judge or Special Trial Judge, present all or any part of a petitioner’s case at a hearing or trial. However, the presiding Judge or Special Trial Judge may at any time exercise the discretion to require the student to step aside and to require lead counsel to complete the hearing or trial.
  4. An academic clinic submitting a pleading, motion, stipulation, or other paper to the Court for filing may include a statement in the body of the document including the name of any student enrolled in the academic clinic who participated in preparation of the document. However, a student may not sign a document submitted to the Court for filing.

Sec. 4. 

Academic Clinic Contact Information

If these requirements are satisfied and an academic tax clinic is recognized by the Court, the Court will use stuffer letters to provide petitioners with specific contact information for the academic clinic.

Sec. 5. 

Termination of Recognition

The Court, in its discretion, may withdraw recognition of an academic tax clinic at any time, provided notice stating the cause for the loss of recognition is furnished to the academic clinic director. In such a case, counsel of record would be required to file a motion to withdraw, pursuant to Rule 24(c), Tax Court Rules of Practice and Procedure.