Facing the IRS can be a scary thing—particularly if you have a dispute and must face an auditor on your own. For years, California State University, Northridge has offered a solution to this ordeal, but thanks to a recent gift from Tax Defense Partners, an Encino-based full-service tax debt resolution company that specializes in tax defense representation, that solution is about to get even better.
The Bookstein Institute for Higher Education in Taxation, founded in 2007 thanks to an endowment from accounting industry leader and Tax Partner at Armanino, LLP, Harvey Bookstein ’70, CPA. In addition to promoting high-level tax education through its graduate tax program, the Institute also offers a number of initiatives, including the Bookstein Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic. At the Bookstein Clinic, graduate tax and undergraduate accounting students receive training in federal tax procedure and receive experiential learning opportunities by directly handling tax resolution matters on behalf of low-income taxpayers in front of an IRS revenue agent.
According to Dr. Rafi Efrat ’89 (Accounting), CSUN’s Bookstein Chair in Taxation, the Bookstein Clinic is currently the only free service provider in the San Fernando Valley that represents low-income taxpayers who have disputes with the IRS. “However, while the federal tax procedure course is offered regularly during the fall and spring semesters with enrollments averaging about 20 to 25 students, no courses are offered during the summer and winter months,” he explains. “To provide uninterrupted service year round, the clinic must rely on student interns to continue working on cases during the winter and summer.”
Through the newly established Tax Defense Partners Fellowship, the Bookstein Institute will be able to recruit up to five undergraduate accounting students to serve as Tax Defense Fellows at the clinic throughout the winter and summer months. These Fellows will also receive informal mentorship from tax professionals at Tax Defense Partners, attend the calendar hearing of the U.S. Tax Court held in downtown L.A., and participate in social events as part of their mentorship. In addition, Tax Defense Partners professionals will be invited to participate in the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics’ annual Professor for a Day event, and will be available for speaking events on campus, including discussion facilitation as part of the Introduction to Federal Tax Procedure (ACCT 542) courses and during the Tax Luncheon Series for graduate students. Finally, Tax Defense Partners will host up to 40 CSUN students per year in a two-day intensive training on federal tax procedure.
" Tax Defense Partners has grown into one of the preeminent firms in the tax controversy field, and a key factor has been our staff.” said Brian Compton, co-founder and CEO of Tax Defense Partners, “A significant number of our staff are CSUN alumni. It has become clear to us what an outstanding job CSUN is doing in preparing and developing accounting and tax professionals. As we learned more about the Bookstein Clinic it became evident that there is a significant and growing need in our community for these services. And we realized that a meaningful collaboration with CSUN could truly help to make a difference."
Efrat expects the Tax Defense Partners Fellowship to have a significant impact on the community and CSUN students. “In practice, this gift will help us to provide our community with uninterrupted services,” said Efrat. “In addition, Tax Defense Partners’ expertise and interaction with students throughout the year will significantly raise the caliber of our tax resolution training. This is a transformative event for the clinic. It provides us with unique opportunities to truly grow the program.”
By Amy E. Hamaker