Ireland’s first free tax clinic has been set up in NUI Galway to educate students about their entitlements, obligations and how to manage their tax affairs. The pioneering initiative sees tax students in the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics work in partnership with teaching staff and professional tax advisors in providing an online and confidential service.
The NUI Galway Tax Clinic, supported by external tax advisors, is being established initially to assist the University’s students, with a view to extending its services to community groups which are unable to access or afford tax information.
The service will run for at least six weeks at first, offering practical tax information and support to students with tax concerns and queries arising from a change in their circumstances, particularly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Emer Mulligan, Director of the clinic and Personal Professor in Taxation and Finance, said: “The backdrop to this clinic is justice. It’s about helping under-represented people. “The focus of the clinic is tax education and through that we will help a number of people who would not have realised they had an entitlement to certain tax credits and potentially a tax refund, as well as others whose credits were not allocated correctly, or have multiple jobs and or were in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP). “Our mission is to inform and support marginalised citizens in their tax compliance in a free and confidential setting. Plans are underway to extend the service to marginalised community groups in the Galway region.”
A number of external tax advisors give their services to the clinic. Florita Dolly, Tax Director with PwC, one of the first advisors to come on board said: “This exciting new initiative seeks to make taxpayer assistance more accessible and available to marginalized communities and the wider student population. PwC Galway are delighted to be supporting this initiative.” The NUI Galway Tax Clinic will also see students earn valuable real-world experience working with these professional advisors, including some NUI Galway alumni who are working on a pro bono basis. Students seeking advice at the clinic will be asked to consider if they are aware of tax credits they are entitled to, including for tuition fees, flat rate allowances, medical expenses, or being a single parent or home carer. It also asks if they have been employed in the previous four years, if they work multiple jobs, if they received the PUP and know how it is taxed and if they are planning to go overseas.
Professor Mulligan was inspired to set up the country’s first tax clinic after learning of the success of the initiatives in the USA and Australia where they have expanded and secured support from tax authorities with most of the clinics affiliated with academic institutions.
To find out more about the Tax Clinic, click here.