“This was the third year the Federal Tax Clinic has participated in the IRS Nationwide Tax Forum in San Diego and each time it gets bigger and better,” remarks Supervising Attorney Richard Carpenter about the clinics’ participation in this year’s conference, held on Tuesday, September 18, 2013.
Legal Interns Sarah Oyer, Ashley Cook, Kim Mulder, Paul Cramer, Chandara Diep and Nick Choy, along with Law Clerk Ian Friedman and Outreach Coordinator Patty O’Deane staffed the USD Legal Clinics’ booth. They answered questions about the Low-Income Tax Clinic (LITC) program and shared information regarding the free legal services the clinic provides to the low-income community. “This type of experience is great because it gives students a chance to interact with the professional tax community and serves as a good preparation tool for when we are all out in practice,” observes Federal Tax Clinic Law Clerk Ian Friedman. “It also allows them to see the impact their work has on the community and the value in the service we provide.”
Not only did law students and clinics’ staff provide informational materials at the USD Legal Clinics’ resource booth, but Professor Carpenter also presented to nearly 200 attendees on “Collection Alternatives for Your Small Business Clients.” Professor Carpenter is a well-recognized expert in San Diego’s taxation field, having worked as a tax attorney for over 29 years. And he’s been a part of the Federal Tax Clinic since its inception in 1999, working with and supervising every legal intern for the past 14 years. Professor Carpenter works tirelessly with clinic students, providing them with extensive technical educational training for three hours per week, over a 14-week academic semester, or the seven-week summer session. This technical tax legal training is specifically geared to resolving the types of federal income tax problems that are most commonly encountered by low income taxpayers such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, dependency exemptions, filing status issues, repayment plans and Offers-in-Compromise.
As part of his commitment not only to his students, but the community, Professor Carpenter regularly speaks at conferences to help illuminate tax issues faced by low-income San Diegans. This year’s IRS Tax Forum was one such opportunity, drawing 2,100 accountants as well as other tax professionals from across the nation. “I presented on how accountants can assist their small business clients who have tax problems with the IRS,” describes Carpenter. “It was an important and timely presentation because today many small businesses have tax problems. For example, there are many small businesses which have fallen behind in paying their payroll taxes to the IRS and need help.”
Professor Carpenter’s presentation covered topics such as specific tax problems business owners face, navigating the IRS collection maze, advocating for taxpayers and resolving taxpayers’ problems. “I offered ways in which attendees could help their clients in need, in part by explaining the rules to them,” describes Carpenter. “I also explained how they could be important advocates for their clients when dealing with the IRS collection division.”
The legal interns found the experience educational and beneficial as well. “I think the most rewarding part of the representing the Legal Clinics at the conference was getting to meet tax professionals and talk to them about what they do,” reflects Legal Intern Sarah Oyer. “Also a lot of people were very supportive of the work that we do at the clinic. It was nice to see that people appreciate what we do for low income taxpayers.” Nearly 900 attendees stopped by booth, with many attendees from outside of California. The legal interns and staff provided out-of-state attendees with a list of LITCs around the country and also handed out more than 800 Federal Tax Clinic flyers.
“The most rewarding part about my experience was spreading the word about the LITC,” adds Legal Intern Chandara Diep. “Hopefully we convinced small businesses as well as corporations who attended to refer any clients who cannot afford their services to us.”
“It was neat talking to people and having them walk away from our table saying that the clinic was such a great service and that they would definitely recommend it to their clients,” adds Friedman. “There was also one man who came over to the table because he said that he had gotten one of our flyers last year but that he had lost it and was excited to get a new one so that he would be able to refer clients.”
By providing both informational flyers at the Legal Clinics’ booth, in addition to the tax and law information offered by Professor Carpenter during his presentation, the USD Legal Clinics was able to interact with and assist thousands of attendees from across the United States. “It was a wonderful learning experience for our students to be able to meet with tax accountants and talk with them, one on one, about the important work we do at the USD Federal Tax Clinic,” concludes Professor Carpenter.