Low Income Taxpayer Clinics, or LITCs, are organizations that provide pro bono (free) representation to low income taxpayers who have tax disputes with federal, state, or local tax agencies. The disputes can involve audits, administrative appeals, collection, account adjustments, or litigation. LITCs also provide outreach and education for low income taxpayers and taxpayers who speak English as a Second Language (ESL) about taxpayer rights and responsibilities. LITCs began in the United States in the 1970s as part of clinical education programs in law, accounting, and business schools. In 1992 the first freestanding LITC was founded. LITCs expanded significantly in the late 1990s with the enactment Internal Revenue Code section 7526 under the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, which created a federally funded matching grant program. In addition to the U.S., there are several LITCs in Australia, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.
Without LITCs, taxpayers who cannot afford representation in tax disputes with the tax agency are likely to get the wrong result, simply because they do not understand the tax law, or they do not understand what they need to provide the agency to support their case, or they simply give up because they are afraid or intimidated by the tax agency.
Low income and other vulnerable taxpayer populations may not know they have the general right to challenge the tax agency and be heard, or that they have specific protections under the law. LITCs ensure that low income taxpayers are afforded the same rights and protections — due process — as taxpayers who can pay for counsel.