On Saturday, March 11, 2017, the University of Baltimore Tax Clinic participated in Baltimore’s first “Offer in Compromise Day.”
At this event, held in conjunction with the University of Maryland Frances Carey King School of Law Tax Clinic and the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service Tax Clinic, low-income taxpayers were invited to take part in a presentation about the Internal Revenue Service’s Offer in Compromise program. Offers in Compromise allow taxpayers who meet certain financial and other requirements to resolve outstanding tax debts for less than the full amount due. The presentation began with an overview of the Offer in Compromise system by the Tax Clinic’s director, Professor Jack Snyder, and Professor Beverly Winstead of the University of Maryland Tax Clinic. This included a discussion of how taxpayers qualify for the program, as well as common pitfalls in submitting offers. After this presentation, taxpayers had the opportunity to consult with the Clinic’s student attorneys regarding their individual circumstances.
This event was just one part of the Tax Clinic’s ongoing program of outreach to low-income taxpayers, particularly recent immigrants and others who speak English as a second language.
While the Tax Clinic’s student attorneys primarily provide representation in tax controversy to dozens of clients each year, the Clinic also offers education on taxpayers’ rights and responsibilities to taxpayers with limited or no English proficiency. This academic year, the Clinic’s student attorneys have made presentations to clients of Asylee Women’s Enterprises and, in partnership with Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, to clients of the International Rescue Committee. Both organizations serve immigrants who have recently arrived in the United States. These presentations give new taxpayers a broad orientation to the tax system. Topics include the nature of income taxes—something unfamiliar to citizens of other countries, which often rely primarily on consumption taxes—how to ensure appropriate withholding, how to avoid unscrupulous return preparers, and, of course, how to seek assistance with tax problems.
Fall 2016 student attorney Ricky Adams notes, “As you can imagine, an overview of various tax forms, including W-4’s, W-2’s, tax returns, and an overview of federal tax obligations is quite the welcome to a new country. Nevertheless, the participants are eager to learn about our tax system and they are gracious and grateful for our services, which we are honored to provide.”