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Profiles in pro bono: Jay Miller

Jay-Miller-200x250Jay Miller wants to get the word out. The Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) is available to low-income residents who need assistance with IRS tax matters. “LITC is a valuable resource for low income taxpayers who have disputes with the IRS. We’re busy, but we currently are not turning anyone away,” he said.

Miller has been a tax attorney since 1977. He worked for the Tax Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and later as vice president and tax counsel for Northwestern Mutual Insurance in Milwaukee. He retired from the company in 2009, having served there for 20 years.

For years Miller has been a valuable volunteer for the LITC. “In 2014, he committed 287.10 hours to the clinic,” said Maggie Niebler-Brown of Legal Action of Wisconsin, the organization that sponsors LITC. “He handles very challenging federal tax controversies and gets great results for clients.”

Miller said, “Volunteering at [LITC] is an extension of my career. I represent people who either dispute the amount of taxes owed or acknowledge that taxes are owed but can’t pay them. We often are able to work out a compromise settlement where the IRS agrees to accept a lower amount if the client can show he can’t pay the taxes now and it is unlikely he will be able to do so in the future.”

Asked how he got into the area of tax law, Miller responded, “I guess I’m ‘wired’ for tax law. In law school, while other students got excited about torts, tax law was one of the few areas I enjoyed. I like the advocacy role, and I like representing people in cases with a beginning, an end and a firm conclusion.” Miller noted that an enjoyable part of his volunteer work is when he discovers that people are entitled to a refund they didn’t even know about. “To our clients, a refund of any size is helpful because they can really use the money.” He added,“Tax law is incredibly complicated, so — maybe even more than other areas of civil law — people feel up against a wall. They just don’t know what to do.”

LITC attorneys, a certified public accountant and enrolled agents provide free help to low-income taxpayers from any Wisconsin county on such IRS matters as audits, appeals, collection, failure to file returns, earned income credit, filing status and dependents, and independent contractors/employees. They do not assist in criminal tax matters or tax return preparation for the current year. They do not answer tax questions over the phone.

“Several people in our office have direct employment experience with the IRS,” Miller said. “We would like to get the word out that we are here and available to help.” The LITC intake phone numbers for clients are 414-274-3400 or 1-855-502-2468.

Miller lives in Whitefish Bay and is a trustee on the village board. He and his wife, Donna, have two adult children.