A Successful Year For The Center for Taxpayer Rights In Our Work To Protect Taxpayer Rights

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Today, Nina Olson brings us an update on the activities of the Center for Taxpayer Rights over the past year.  As the President of the board, I could not be prouder of the accomplishments of the Center in its first three years of operation.  I hope that after reading about the actions the Center has taken and plans to take, you will join board members Alice Abreu, Liz Atkinson, Les Book and me in supporting the work of the center in support of taxpayer rights in the United States and beyond.  Keith

It is hard to believe the Center for Taxpayer Rights (CTR) has only been in existence for a little over three years.  So much has happened since August 1, 2019, when CTR began operations.  The pandemic demonstrated the importance of the tax code and the Internal Revenue Service as a vehicle for ensuring the welfare and health of the nation’s residents, in case folks had missed that point in the preceding three decades.  It also showed how important Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) are for ensuring that those with the least means can receive the benefits to which they are entitled and enjoy taxpayer rights protections.  The pandemic also helped CTR achieve a personal goal I set in founding the nonprofit – that we would expand the base of funding for advocacy on low income taxpayer issues beyond the legal/tax community.

Today, the Center is honored to receive operational funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Schusterman Family Foundation, as well as dedicated project funding from the ABA Tax Section and the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation (more on this in future posts).  This funding has enabled us to expand our staff to include our Tax Section Public Service Fellow, Anna Gooch, and our bilingual Pro Bono/Training Coordinator, Dulce Mascorro.  

To build on this success, on Giving Tuesday, and into 2023, CTR’s board of directors is launching a campaign to raise funds specifically for the LITC Support Center, a project of CTR.  You can give to the Support Center here.  In tomorrow’s post I will describe the work of the Support Center and explain why we are launching this campaign, but for now I’d like to share with you some of CTR’s accomplishments over the last year.

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Amicus Briefs

In 2021, on behalf of CTR, the Harvard Federal Tax Clinic filed an amicus brief inBoechler v. Commissioner, which PT has covered extensively.  On April 21, 2022, the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of the taxpayer, turning traditional “wisdom” about Tax Court filing deadlines on its proverbial head.  Since that time, the Harvard clinic and CTR have filed amicus briefs in Boechler progeny cases, notably Culp v. Commissioner and Frutiger v. Commissioner, arguing that Boechler’s reasoning should apply to deficiency and innocent spouse cases.

In 2022, CTR, represented pro bono by the Moore Law Firm, filed an amicus in Bittner v. United States, which is also before the US Supreme Court. (As noted in the brief, I am recused from participating in this case, so CTR board members Alice Abreu and Liz Atkinson assisted in the brief.)  During oral arguments, CTR’s brief was cited twice in support of the petitioner, which made us all very proud.

Also in 2022, CTR and a number of other clinics filed an amicus with the Tax Court in Thomas v. Commissioner, which focuses on the interpretation of the “administrative record” rule of IRC  6015(e)(7), enacted in the Taxpayer First Act.

Reimagining Tax Administration: State Tax Practices & Taxpayer Rights 

For the last year, with funding from Rockefeller and the ABA Tax Section fellowship, CTR has been conducting a nationwide survey of state tax practices and taxpayer rights.  Volunteers from the ABA Tax Section and LITCs, among others, have answered over 200 questions about state tax practices dealing with filing, tax credits, audits, appeals, adjudication, collection enforcement and alternatives, and taxpayer advocates and state funding of LITCs.  The project ultimately will result in a report with recommendations of best practices.

While the survey work is ongoing, this fall we held a series of four workshops highlighting the practices and challenges we have identified so far.  You can access the workshop videos and materials here – they really are fascinating, and we have a great line up of panelists.  When it comes to the protection of taxpayer rights, the diversity of practices among the states is really something we should all be concerned about.

International Conference on Taxpayer Rights: 

In May 2022, over three days, we held our 7th International Conference on Taxpayer Rights, as a virtual program.  The theme of the conference was Tax Collection & Taxpayer Rights in the Post-COVID World.  For 2023, we are planning the 8th ICTR, which will be in Santiago, Chile and also livestreamed.  The upcoming conference’s theme is Access to Justice: Judicial Review & Alternative Dispute Resolution.  The conference will be held on 24 to 26 May, 2023; registration will open in late January.

Tax Chat! 

In November, we brought back our popular Tax Chats!, which are free online conversations with interesting people from around the world who are working in the field of taxation.  The Tax Chat! on November 14th covered the Inflation Reduction Act’s appropriation of $15 million for the IRS to study a direct tax preparation and e-filing application.  (You can watch past Tax Chats! here; the E-filing video will be posted shortly.)

The Direct E-filing video is the inaugural program in a Tax Chat! series we will continue into 2023 about the Inflation Reduction Act and the IRS appropriation of $80 billion over the next ten years.  We plan to explore how the IRS could transform itself with that funding, hearing from tax administrators, tax and other professionals, and researchers from US and international tax systems as well as the private and public sectors.  Stay tuned – we think this will be a fascinating series.

In December I will post a blog with all we have planned for 2023 – I’ve previewed some highlights in this post regarding LITC Connect, the Tax Chat! series, and the International Conference on Taxpayer Rights. We also have planned a new Reimagining Tax Administration workshop series, two really exciting research studies, a tax education project in North Carolina public schools, and more.

But for now, we need your support for the LITC Support Center.  Won’t you please give today?  And if your firm is interested in becoming a charter sponsoring member, please contact me or Dulce Mascorro and we will be happy to give you more information.  And to those of you who have given in the past, we are so grateful for your generous support.

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