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Pro Bono Volunteer Goes the Extra Mile

For several years now, the Harvard Legal Services Center Tax Clinic (the clinic) litigated whether certain Tax Court filing deadlines are jurisdictional or claims processing rules subject to equitable tolling. Pursuing the issue across the country, the clinic directly represented clients and filed amicus briefs on which clinic students worked and volunteer counsel assisted. Shortly prior to oral argument in the Eighth Circuit, the petitioner’s counsel asked if the clinic would take on the oral argument as well. A recent clinic alumna, who argued the same issue in the Fourth Circuit, agreed to argue the case pro bono with the backing of her firm. She became part of an all-woman team at the firm that argued the merits of the case successfully before the Supreme Court. In reversing lower court rulings, the U.S. Supreme Court held unanimously in Boechler P.C. v. Commissioner, 142 S.Ct. 1493 (Apr. 21, 2022), that the time period for filing a Collection Due Process petition in the U.S. Tax Court is not jurisdictional and is subject to equitable tolling. The Boechler decision has the potential to impact future court filings of many low-income taxpayers who often face challenging life situations that create obstacles to meeting filing deadlines. The clinic’s persistence in fighting this access to justice issue will help ensure that taxpayers can make the case for tolling the time period for filing a Tax Court petition when appropriate.


Did you know there is a Taxpayer Bill of Rights?

The taxpayer Bill of Rights is grouped into 10 easy to understand categories outlining the taxpayer rights and protections embedded in the tax code.

It is also what guides the advocacy work we do for taxpayers.

Read more about your rights