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What to expect when you work with us


We are required to confirm that you meet our guidelines before we can represent you in your tax matter. 

Initial Meeting

We start by having an initial meeting to determine that you meet our income guidelines, discuss your case to determine the extent of your tax issues, and then complete a retainer agreement and the necessary power of attorney forms so that we can advocate for you. We will discuss a plan to resolve your tax issues and then your assigned Student Attorney will work with you to collect the necessary documents we need to advocate for you before the IRS.

Representation by student attorneys       

Second and third-year law students, working under Michigan Court Rule 8.120 and the direct supervision of an attorney licensed in Michigan, will represent Clients as student attorneys.  They work part-time at the Tax Clinic. A first semester student attorney works 255 hours (18 hours per week) per semester. A second semester student attorney works 170 hours (12 hours per week) per semester. They do not work every day. Student Attorney schedules may temporarily change without notice to the client. Student attorneys work to diligently communicate with their clients. Please keep in mind that because of their part-time schedules, they may not respond to your call or email until their next shift. 

Power of Attorney Forms
It is critical that the Clinic always has a current Power of Attorney forms from each client on file so that we can communicate with the IRS (Form 2848) or Michigan Department of Treasury (Form 151) on your behalf.  The power of attorney forms may expire at the end of a semester. We will send you a new power of attorney form to sign when we need an updated form. Representation may be terminated if you do not return the Power of Attorney forms within 14 days of the beginning of each semester. The Michigan State University semesters are as follows:

Spring Semester – January to Late April
Summer Semester – Early May to August
Fall Semester – Late August to Early December

Resolving tax cases can take months...or longer 

Federal and state tax problems can take many months to over a year to resolve.  The speed of resolving the case highly depends on the responsiveness of the client to provide the Clinic with the necessary documents and information it needs and the responsiveness of the taxing authority (IRS or Michigan Department of Treasury) to follow its own procedures.  Clinic attorneys strive to resolve a case as soon as possible but can be hindered by client actions.  The faster that clients respond to our requests for information and documents, the faster we can compile that information and submit to the taxing authority for consideration.

Solving a tax problem requires information and documents we can only get from YOU

Every single tax problem we handle at the Tax Clinic will require you to provide us a current Form 2848 (IRS Power of Attorney Form) and other personal financial documents. In most cases, you are the ONLY person who can provide this information. Some documents that we may need to help you include:

  • 3 months of banks statements
  • Current lease (if renting)
  • 3 months of utility bills
  • 3 months of cell phone bills
  • 3 months of mortgage statements (if you own a home)
  • 3 months of rent receipts
  • 3 months of car payments
  • 3 months of credit card statements
  • Proof of Child Support
  • Proof of Judgment Payments
  • Car insurance statements
  • Property tax statements
  • Retirement account statements
  • Information regarding your assets

* If you have lost past tax records, we can often request transcripts of this information from the IRS. You may also contact current companies you deal with for past statements.

Client’s Responsibilities   

The client’s cooperation and support is essential to enable student attorneys to represent the Client. Representation in this matter is dependent on Client’s agreement to: 

  • Fully cooperate with law student attorneys to obtain facts and documents needed to complete the work specified above.  This includes promptly responding to telephone calls, emails, correspondence, and requests for information. 
  • Notify the student attorney of any changes in your contact information (i.e., name, address, email address, telephone number, and/or employment); 
  • Promptly inform the student attorney of all contact (by telephone, letter, or otherwise) to and from the taxing authorities; and 
  • Remain current in filing federal tax returns and ensure that federal income tax withholding or estimated tax payments are adequate to meet Client’s estimated tax liability in the current year. 

Our process for working on your case

Once a student attorney has received the necessary information from you, analyzed your problem, and drafted the necessary forms for your case, they are submitted to the professors for review. No work leaves the Clinic with less than two supervisor reviews and A+ quality. Student attorneys will keep the client informed on the progress of your matter and changes in office hours. 

Statement on inclusion and anti-racism

Pursuant to Michigan Court Rule 6.5:

(a) A lawyer shall treat with courtesy and respect all persons involved in the legal process. A lawyer shall take particular care to avoid treating such a person discourteously or disrespectfully because of the person’s race, gender, or other protected personal characteristic. To the extent possible, a lawyer shall require subordinate lawyers and nonlawyer assistants to provide such courteous and respectful treatment. (b) A lawyer serving as an adjudicative officer shall, without regard to a person’s race, gender, or other protected personal characteristic, treat every person fairly, with courtesy and respect. To the extent possible, the lawyer shall require staff and others who are subject to the adjudicative officer’s direction and control to provide such fair, courteous, and respectful treatment to persons who have contact with the adjudicative tribunal.

Comment: Duties of the Lawyer. A lawyer is an officer of the court who has sworn to uphold the federal and state constitutions, to proceed only by means that are truthful and honorable, and to avoid offensive personality. It follows that such a professional must treat clients and third persons with courtesy and respect. For many citizens, contact with a lawyer is the first or only contact with the legal system. Respect for law and for legal institutions is diminished whenever a lawyer neglects the obligation to treat persons properly. It is increased when the obligation is met. A lawyer must pursue a client’s interests with diligence. This often requires the lawyer to frame questions and statements in bold and direct terms. The obligation to treat persons with courtesy and respect is not inconsistent with the lawyer’s right, where appropriate, to speak and write bluntly. Obviously, it is not possible to formulate a rule that will clearly divide what is properly challenging from what is impermissibly rude. A lawyer’s professional judgment must be employed here with care and discretion. A lawyer must take particular care to avoid words or actions that appear to be improperly based upon a person’s race, gender, or other protected personal characteristic. Legal institutions, and those who serve them, should take leadership roles in assuring equal treatment for all. Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct 95 Last Updated 9/3/2021 A judge must act “[a]t all times” in a manner that promotes public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary. Canon 2(B) of the Code of Judicial Conduct. See also Canon 5. By contrast, a lawyer’s private conduct is largely beyond the scope of these rules. See Rule 8.4. However, a lawyer’s private conduct should not cast doubt on the lawyer’s commitment to equal justice under law. A supervisory lawyer should make every reasonable effort to ensure that subordinate lawyers and nonlawyer assistants, as well as other agents, avoid discourteous or disrespectful behavior toward persons involved in the legal process. Further, a supervisory lawyer should make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm has in effect policies and procedures that do not discriminate against members or employees of the firm on the basis of race, gender, or other protected personal characteristic.