Civil Legal Clinic Offers Help with Income Tax Returns

OXFORD, Miss. – Tax season can be a difficult time for many people, but a unique course offered through the University of Mississippi School of Law offers low-income individuals assistance with their personal income taxes.

What is known as the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic is one section of the law school’s Civil Legal Clinic, a course for second and third year law students in which the students represent low-income clients under faculty supervision.  The Civil Legal Clinic represents clients with a variety of legal issues, including assisting clients with preparing income tax returns.

Third-year law student Joseph Razyor enrolled in the Civil Legal Clinic last fall and assisted numerous clients with their income taxes. He said the experience he gained through the clinic course is invaluable.

“The law itself isn’t that complicated,” Razyor said. “But what you really get from the tax clinic experience is the hands-on work with the people and the IRS. Being able to work with the clients, build that rapport with them and really reach out and learn things you wouldn’t be able to in a classroom.”

Razyor, who is not yet a licensed attorney and so is unable to give legal advice, cited two uncommonly discussed issues that arise in tax law that he was not aware of when he enrolled in the Clinic.

“One thing I learned in the Clinic is that if you have a retirement account, you need to see what your tax liability is before dipping into the account,” Razyor said. “If you have taken money from a retirement account, be sure to quickly pay off any liabilities you may have incurred by withdrawing funds.”

Also some filers may be able to file for Innocent Spouse Relief, Razyor said. The IRS describes this form of tax relief as such:

“Many married taxpayers file a joint tax return because of certain benefits this filing status allows. If you did so, you may be held responsible for monies due, even if your spouse earned all of the income – and this is true even if a divorce decree states that your spouse will be responsible for any amounts due on previously filed joint returns.”

“Innocent Spouse Relief really goes by your unique circumstances,” Razyor added.

For more information on penalties that may incur from early withdrawing on retirement funds or on Innocent Spouse Relief, visit the IRS Web site at or speak with a licensed attorney.

For more information of the UM law school’s Civil Legal Clinic, or to see if you qualify for assistance, call 662-915-7429 or visit