As soon as you receive a case, read the fle thoroughly and review the Amicus File Summary.
The Transition Memo (located on Side I of the case file) and the File Summary in Amicus should serve as a guide on how to proceed, but you should not rely on it as an infallible course of action. It is possible that either or both may omit pertinent information. Take a fresh approach and determine what the next action should be, consult your supervisor and proceed accordingly. The semester moves quickly, so if you are able to get started early, you will have a better opportunity to resolve some of your cases or bring them near resolution before semester's end.
In cases in which a statutory notice (30-day, 90-day, or Determination Letter) was received, calculate the date by which a response must be made unless such date is already indicated on the letter itself. If a petition is required, refer to the Clinic website and then consult with your supervisor immediately. Petitions may be somewhat complicated, and you might require assistance. All petitions must be submitted to Professor Blasi for review and the must be signed by Professor Blasi and Professor Timm.
If the case file contains a Notice of Lien or a Notice of Intent to Levy, consider filing an immediate appeal within the statutory 30-day period. If that period has expired and no stay (suspension of collection activity) has been obtained, contact the IRS to obtain a stay on the account. This will give you some time to gather information from the client and determine the proper course of action. An extension of the 30-day period may not be branted by the IRS.
When you read the case file, be sure to read between the lines and look for subtle investigative leads and less obvious legal and factual issues. Everything essential to the case does not appear in plain view in the file. As you read the file, consider what the legal and factual implications are of what you read.
Form 2848, Power of Attorney, ("POA") is required to be completed and filed with the IRS before the IRS will discuss a case with someone other than the taxpayer.
The taxpayer (and taxpayer's spouse, if a joint return was filed) must sign and date this form. The form must also be signed by the student attorney, the Clinic Director and the Associate Director. The dated signatures of the parties must be within 45 days of one another.
The POA must follow the format established by the IRS for Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics posted in the copy room, and the student's "Special Orders" must be attached to the copy sent to the IRS.
Each existing client file will contain either a blank (client signed but no student signature) POA or no blank POA. Follow the appropriate procedures below based on what is, or is not, contained in the file:
Contact with all of your clients within five working days after the first class or after the case is assigned to you. For those clients whose files are marked “Spanish Only,” make arrangements with the Clinic Administrative Coordinator to provide translation services during your communications. Before calling the Spanish Only client, confirm the availability of the Clinic Administrative Coordinator. These telephone calls should take place from the student attorney’s workstation and should be orally translated as close to verbatim as possible. Any confirming correspondence should be drafted by the student attorney and translated by the Clinic Administrative Coordinator. Copies of both the English and Spanish versions should be saved to the electronic file and the paper file.
Record any phone communications in Amicus. Clients are aware of the semester change and are anxiously waiting to hear from their new student attorney. During the initial telephone contact with the client:
You will undoubtedly have questions regarding procedural and/or substantive issues with your cases. If you have questions regarding the particulars of a case, you may contact the student attorney who handled the case last semester. You may also see your supervisor, a GRA or second semester student with your questions after you have reviewed the file.
A word of caution is in order here. Instead of going to the Clinic Director or the Associate Director with a question, approach them with a proposed solution or thoughtful alternatives. In other words, do preliminary research, investigation or inquiry and reason through the problem in order to be prepared to discuss the relative merits of the proposed solution with them. Most of the information you will need regarding the procedural and substantive issues of your cases is contained within this website, so become familiar with it and use it diligently.
Update the Amicus File Summary, if applicable. You may find that after your review of the file, contact with the client, and consultation with Clinic Personnel that changes should be made to the File Summary. If so, update the File Summary accordingly and it will serve you well throughout the semester as a guide to the client’s issues as well as a compass by which to navigate your client’s case toward resolution.