Who We Are
IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law's Tax Clinic has long been recognized as one of the preeminent tax clinics in the country. Now in existence for more than 24 years, the clinic was one of the first organizations to qualify for a matching grant under the Internal Revenue Service Low Income Taxpayer program in 1998. For the past 13 years, the clinic has served solely indigent and very low-income taxpayers in a pro bono capacity. Recognizing the explosion in demand by middle-class and small-business taxpayers for ethical and aggressive representation and transactional advice, the Tax Clinic reinvented itself beginning in January 2012 to provide this unserved market superior services at affordable fees.
Attorney Jonathan Decatorsmith, a full-time clinical professor and instructor at the law school since 2000, supervises the Tax Clinic. In addition, he teaches courses on federal tax practice and procedure, international business transactions, estates and trusts, tax fraud, and other topics. Prior to joining the Law Offices of Chicago-Kent, Decatorsmith was a senior trial attorney and internal instructor with the Internal Revenue Service for 11 years. He has tried more than 35 cases before the United States Tax Court, and previously served as an adjunct professor at DePaul University and the University of Minnesota.
Ni Sha generally serves as a Staff Attorney for the Tax Practice, primarily overseeing its pro bono services and coordinating our community outreach activities. An attorney for more than 12 years in Beijing, China, Ni brings to the practice experience in business transactions, civil litigation, and client relations. She previously served as an intern with the clinic, received her LL.M. degree with highest honors from the Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2011, and is a member of the New York State Bar.
Tekla Modebadze serves as a Law Clerk for the Tax Practice. Tekla Modebadze comes to us from the Republic of Georgia, where her legal education and professional experience focused primarily on criminal law and procedure. She received her law degree with honors in 2015 from Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University and her LL.M from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2017. Tekla joins the Tax Practice to support its litigation activities and expansion of services into criminal tax representation. She fluently speaks several languages, and will also be directly responsible for the firm’s marketing and social media initiatives
What We Believe
The Tax Clinic believes that successfully serving a client means more than zealously advancing a position in a pending dispute with the Internal Revenue Service; it involves educating the client with respect to his or her obligations under our voluntary compliance system, and making the client aware of the Service's resources available to assist him or her in meeting those obligations in the future. Our approach is holistic and preventative. We believe in not only addressing a client's current tax problem, but ensuring that there will not be a similar recurrence.
In addition to its primary mission of delivering high-quality legal services to taxpayers, the Tax Clinic is committed to maintaining its strong professional and mutually respectful relationship with the local Internal Revenue Service Examination, Collection, Appeals, and Chief Counsel personnel, as well as the numerous customer service representatives at the Service Centers. The Tax Clinic values these relationships highly, and continues to expand its network of contacts and promote its cooperative problem-solving approach within the context of the newly re-organized Internal Revenue Service. Further, the Tax Clinic believes it is a fundamental part of its mission to identify institutional problems that impact low- and middle-income taxpayers and advocate system-wide reforms through administrative and/or legislative channels.
How We Operate
The Tax Clinic charges modest, mostly flat fees on a sliding-scale basis. Under the direct supervision of Professor Jonathan Decatorsmith, student interns directly assist with serving clients and performing the work. If cases are litigated before the U.S. Tax Court, the U.S. District Court, or any other forum, Decatorsmith, an experienced tax litigator, represents the client.
The Tax Clinic's explicit mission is to serve the surrounding community by providing the highest-quality services to taxpayers who are unable to afford the fees charged by traditional private law firms. We believe that training our students in their dual obligations of ethical, aggressive representation and dedicated public service is a fundamental component of their professional education.
We are able to fully accommodate clients who speak Spanish, Mandarin, and other languages.
We offer a free initial consultation. If we determine that you are able to resolve your dispute with the IRS or other agency on your own, we will encourage you to do so, and provide the assistance necessary so that you can help yourself.
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With regard to both the selection of students for participation as interns in the Tax Clinic, and the acceptance of clients for representation, the Tax Clinic has adopted and implemented the non-discrimination policy of the Chicago Kent College of Law, specifically that there will be no discrimination or segregation on the grounds of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, handicap or disability, or sexual orientation.