Shannon Roddel | April 4, 2020
When Patrick Thomas founded the Notre Dame Law School Tax Clinic in 2016, he decided to make it “paperless.” Just four years later, that decision appears prophetic.
The coronavirus pandemic and “stay-at-home” orders affecting Notre Dame and much of the nation have crippled other tax programs, but as a result of his foresight, Thomas, who relies heavily on the work of student attorneys, has only had to make minor adjustments to continue serving clients.
A federally funded low income taxpayer clinic, the Notre Dame Tax Clinic, located inside the Notre Dame Clinical Law Center at 725 Howard St. in South Bend, represents clients in federal tax disputes with the IRS and educates individuals about their rights and responsibilities as taxpayers. Services are free of charge.
Each semester, Thomas supervises eight to 12 students who receive course credit for taking the lead in client representation before the IRS and in litigation. Each is assigned 3 to 6 cases, depending on the complexity of the case. This semester Thomas has 11 students working an average of four cases.
Because all tax clinic files are stored in a cloud-based practice management system and the team utilizes cloud-based tax preparation software, only in-person exchanges have required adjustment, and the intake process has not stopped or even slowed.
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