Keith Fogg and the Villanova Law Tax Clinic Serve Low-Income Taxpayers
As April 15th approaches, millions of Americans prepare and file their federal tax returns, but complex tax codes dealing with tax incentives and deductions result in errors made by average citizens and tax professionals alike. Low-income individuals and families are especially at risk for audit by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and nearly 70% of all Americans called to Federal Tax Court appear without legal representation.
In the Philadelphia region, low-income taxpayers facing federal tax disputes turn to the Villanova University School of Law Federal Tax Clinic, run by Professor Keith Fogg and staffed by Villanova Law students. Now in its 21st year, the Federal Tax Clinic handles approximately 300 cases annually, serving the dual purpose of helping those in need while teaching students practical legal skills.
“The experience of the clinic is more about being a lawyer than it is about being a tax lawyer,” said Fogg. Students with diverse interests including litigation, corporate and tax law have the opportunity to serve as attorneys, receiving special authority to represent their clients before the IRS and the U.S. Tax Court. “Students are pushed to hone their legal skills because representing a client before the IRS is a challenging experience,” Fogg noted.
Fogg knows the IRS like few others, having worked 30-plus years for the agency’s Office of Chief Counsel. He has served as Director of the Federal Tax Clinic for five years and his dedication to assisting low-income taxpayers extends beyond Villanova. Fogg currently serves as the Chair of the ABA Low- Income Taxpayer Committee, which seeks to influence legislation, regulations and other guidance on issues impacting low income taxpayers and low income taxpayer representatives.
“I like that in the clinic I’m helping people on a case-by-case basis,” said Fogg. “Through my work with the ABA, I have the opportunity to influence change on a grander scale. It’s great that I can make a difference both locally and nationally.”