Tax Notes logo

Exonerees and TAPS

Posted on Nov. 27, 2018

On giving Tuesday we write to offer you two ways to give back to the community in the tax area. The first opportunity is by taking a pro bono case to assist individuals who were wrongfully incarcerated. After release from wrongful incarceration, many of these individuals lived in states that paid the exoneree for the damage caused by the wrongful incarceration. At the time of payment, the money received was taxable income. Congress changed the law and retroactively excluded these funds from taxation in 139F. It has also opened up the refund statute to allow these individuals to get back the money paid before the law change; however, the open refund statute is about to close. We wrote about this two years ago seeking volunteers and readers of PT generously donated their time to assist the individuals who had been identified. More individuals have now been identified and another push is needed to assist them. Please read Kelley Miller’s letter below and respond to her if you are able to assist.

In addition to the opportunity to assist by working on a case, we also write to ask that you assist by donating money to TAPS. This fund, created by the ABA Tax Section, provides money for fellowships to new lawyers to work in low income taxpayer clinics and other similar settings to assist low income taxpayers. In particular, it seeks to create projects that would serve as models to assist these individuals. At PT we have a regular portal through which you can give to TAPS (look on the side of the blog.) Today, we bring you a letter from one of our loyal readers who caused his firm to give to TAPS. We ask that you consider using the portal to have your firm do the same or to give individually. Keith

Helping Exonerees

Hello, Friends:

Two years ago at this time, we were working round the clock with Jon Eldan of After Innocence in San Francisco to file refund claims under Section 139F by December 18, 2016.  I am really proud of the results achieved to date for our extraordinary, pro bono exoneree clients, and am so grateful for all of the assistance that Keith and his students at Harvard have provided to this effort as well over the past two years.  This work has resulted in our doing additional tax-related, pro bono work for exonerees beyond the Section 139F claims.  We have worked closely with Jon Eldan and the Innocence Project Network over the past two years as the only group of tax practitioners working to assist Exonerees.  It has been incredibly important and significant work for us.

As you all know, the extender bill (which we provided much education on in terms of the normative refund statute) that was passed back in February gave us an additional two years from the original claim filing date.  Since that time, Jon and myself and a team of summer associates and volunteer attorneys from Reed Smith have worked to locate almost 300 remaining possible Section 139F refund claimants, including, many military exonerees (these individuals are those left from our search two years ago, where we worked to locate hundreds of other possible Section 139F refund claimants).  As a result of working to locate these individuals, preliminary review of each’s facts and circumstances, Jon informed me today of 12 potential pro bono refund cases to review and assist with by the deadline of December 17, 2018.

I am writing to ask for your help in either you or your firm assisting us in taking on one or more of these cases.

Many thanks to you all. Happy to answer any questions and I welcome your thoughts about this work.


Kelley C. Miller
Direct 215.851.8855 – Mobile 215.704.3046 – Fax 215.851.1420

Helping Low Income Taxpayers Through TAPS

I have been a tax controversy lawyer since 1977.  I spent about 10 years with the Office of Chief Counsel, IRS, and have been in private practice since 1986.  Procedurally Taxing has become a staple of my daily reading.  If Procedurally Taxing charged a fee for access, we would pay thousands of dollars per year for access just as we pay for other tax publications.  I inquired about how to make a contribution towards Procedurally Taxing, and was advised to make a donation to the ABA Tax Assistance Public Service Fund (“TAPS”), which provides long-term funding for tax-related public service programs for underserved taxpayers.  I was able to convince my firm to make annual donations to TAPS.  An added perk is the TAPS donor sticker attached to your name tag at ABA Tax Section meetings.

As a result of reading Procedurally Taxing every day, I have come to appreciate that low income taxpayer clinics frequently litigate important tax controversy issues that otherwise would not be litigated because the dollar amounts at issue are very small or the chances of success at the appellate level are low or, frequently, both.  This is another important reason every tax lawyer should support TAPS.

If you too read Procedurally Taxing every day, I encourage you to step-up and convince your firm to make annual donations to TAPS.  If you are a tax controversy attorney and you do not read Procedurally Taxing every day, you should, unless you are a government attorney, in which case it is fine if you want to remain in the dark about cutting edge tax controversy issues.


Robert. R Rubin ●  Attorney ●  BOUTIN  JONES INC. ●  555 Capitol Mall, Suite 1500  ●  Sacramento, CA 95814

Copy RID