The American Bar Association Section of Taxation has created a Tax Assistance Public Service endowment fund that will provide stable, long-term funding for the ABA’s tax-related public service programs for underserved taxpayers, including low-income people, military personnel and disaster victims.

The Section of Taxation has set an endowment goal for the Tax Assistance Public Service, or TAPS, fund of $5 million. The first $2.5 million of the TAPS endowment has been funded from the Section of Taxation reserves. Once the $5 million endowment goal is reached, income from the TAPS fund will be dedicated to support the Section’s tax-related public service programs.

The primary focus will be to support the Christine A. Brunswick Public Service Fellowship program, which provides two-year fellowships for recent law school graduates working with nonprofit organizations providing tax-related legal assistance to the underserved.

“Creating the TAPS endowment will help people in need of tax-related legal assistance get help even if they have financial problems,” ABA president William C. Hubbard said. “Making sure the underserved get access to legal help is one of the proud functions of the ABA.”

In addition to the Christine A. Brunswick Public Service Fellowship program, the Section of Taxation supports a number of other programs and services that provide assistance to underserved taxpayers, including:

• Publication of a manual to help low-income taxpayer clinics and others providing pro bono tax representation understand how to effectively represent low income taxpayers;

• Training military personnel at bases around the country on how to prepare tax returns for members of the military and their families through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program;

• Providing national coverage at Tax Court calendar calls where Tax Section members volunteer to consult with unrepresented taxpayers to advise them on court procedure, assist with settlement discussions, and in some cases, take on their representation before the court on a pro bono basis;

• Providing pro bono tax assistance to victims of disaster, including in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina; and

• Funding educational programs and studies addressing important tax policy issues, including the needs of underserved taxpayers.

“The Tax Section has a long tradition of working to address equity in the tax system through our members’ pro bono work and the Section’s investments in public service efforts,” said Tax Section chair Armando Gomez. “Over time the TAPS fund will help the Section to build a network of public service minded lawyers that will provide a safety net for taxpayers most in need of help.”

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