Gonzaga Law Students Appear before the U.S. Tax Court

October 19, 2017

On October 2, 2017, the U.S. Tax Court came to Gonzaga Law to hold its annual Calendar Call Session in Spokane, WA. Even though the Tax Court is physically located in Washington, DC, it has a peripatetic nature and conducts trials in 70 designated cities nationwide—of which Spokane is one. Professor Jennifer A. Gellner, who supervises Gonzaga Law’s Federal Tax Clinic, took five Gonzaga Law students and two students pursing their Masters in Tax at Gonzaga’s Business School to participate at the Spokane Calendar. Professor Gellner and the Tax Clinic students provided three consultations to unrepresented taxpayers appearing before the Court that day and watched a pro se trial.

Under Professor Gellner’s leadership, Gonzaga Law’s Tax Clinic has participated in the United States Tax Court Academic Clinical Calendar Program in Spokane, WA, Anchorage, AK, and Helena, MT. The Tax Clinic students provide important advice and assistance to self-represented taxpayers who have disputes with the IRS, regardless of their income level. The Tax Clinic may also enter into representation with unrepresented taxpayers if they qualify for their services. This program developed over the years and Gonzaga’s Tax Clinic, like other program participants, had to be vetted by the court. The Tax Court and the IRS attorneys appreciate the students’ help in educating taxpayers, facilitating settlements, taking testimony for the record, and conducting a trial.

But, the Tax Court’s visit wasn’t all “Rules and Regs.” On October 3, the Washington State Bar Association Taxation Section and the Gonzaga Law Federal Tax Clinic hosted a reception welcoming the Honorable Senior Judge Joel Gerber. After some appetizers, beverages, and conversation, Gonzaga Law student Katherine Merck introduced Judge Joel Gerber. Judge Gerber discussed the differences between Article I and Article III courts as well as the Tax Court’s history and current case load. After he spoke, Judge Gerber took questions from the audience made up of law and business students, as well as local attorneys and professors.