Pro Bono Spotlight: IRS Virtual Settlement Days

Kostelanetz & Fink attorneys Yoram Keinan and Robert Russell were proud to volunteer for the IRS’s first-in-the-country Virtual Settlement Days with the University of Michigan Law School’s Low-Income Tax Clinic (LITC) on May 9 and May 12, 2020.

The IRS held settlement conferences for 42 docketed U.S. Tax Court cases, and resolved the majority of those cases in a fair and efficient manner. Mr. Keinan and Mr. Russell each assisted five taxpayers to resolve their disputes with the IRS.

The IRS described Settlement Days as events that “are coordinated efforts to resolve cases in the United States Tax Court . . . by providing taxpayers not represented by counsel the opportunity to receive free tax advice from [LITCs], American Bar Association (ABA) volunteer attorneys and other pro bono organizations. Taxpayers can also discuss their Tax Court cases and resolve related tax issues with members of the IRS Office of Chief Counsel, the Independent Office of Appeals and Collection. By doing so, unrepresented taxpayers are often able to amicably settle their tax disputes without a trial.”

Traditionally, Settlement Days are held in person. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS’s Michigan Law LITC Settlement Days were held virtually via audio-visual conferencing software, so that taxpayers could safely address their outstanding tax issues.

Given the success of the pilot program, which was also available in Atlanta on May 21 (in conjunction with the North Georgia LITC), the IRS announced on June 4, 2020 that it was “expanding its Virtual Settlement Days program after the tremendous success achieved by three offices that took Settlement Days events virtual in May 2020.”

The University of Michigan Law School pilot program came together though the collective efforts of the IRS, the Taxpayer Advocate Service, the Tax Court, and the Michigan Law LITC. Kostelanetz & Fink attorneys look forward to more opportunities to participate in this worthy pro bono program.