2022 Giving Tuesday -- The Year in Review
On this Giving Tuesday, I’m making a gentle request of you to make a donation in support of the Center for Taxpayer Rights’ work in the field of taxpayer rights, especially in support of the International Conference on Taxpayer Rights (ICTR). As you know, 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.
We try very hard to keep the registration fees for the conference at a modest level so that people from all over the world can attend. We believe the ICTR fills an important niche in the field of taxpayer rights, and we operate it on a very tight budget. So this year we are asking folks to support the work of the Conference by giving to the Center, to help defray some of Conference’s costs and keep the registration fees affordable so they are not a barrier to participation.
This year, 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 Digests). 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.
In 2021, on behalf of CTR, the Harvard Federal Tax Clinic filed an amicus brief in Boechler 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.
The LITC Support Center
The LITC Support Center is designed to function as the national (and international) support center for tax clinics and volunteers. The Support Center’s role is similar to organizations such as the National Consumer Law Center in the United States. That is, the Support Center provides technical support, training, and litigation strategy to Low Income Taxpayer Clinic personnel and volunteers. The Support Center has developed and maintains LITC Connect, the “dating app” whereby LITCs and tax professionals nationwide who are willing to volunteer can be matched to provide needed assistance to low income taxpayers and LITCs. The Support Center also focuses on impact litigation and contributes to CTR’s amicus curiae briefs in cases with broad impact for low income taxpayers or taxpayer rights in general.
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.
So. We’ve certainly been busy and we are very much looking forward to all the neat things we have planned for 2023, not the least of which is being able to return to an in-person International Conference on Taxpayer Rights. We hope we’ve inspired you with our plans, and we hope you will donate, at whatever level you are comfortable with, in support of our work.
Thank you so much, and please take care of yourselves,
Nina E. Olson