Monday, January 30, 2006
Spragens founded one of the earliest and most successful low-income taxpayer clinics in the country in 1990 -- the Federal Tax Clinic at American University’s Washington College of Law -- and has served as its director since that time. Her work includes training and supervising law students representing low-income taxpayers in federal and state tax controversies often heard before the Tax Court, and teaching tax law classes. Spragens has been on the forefront of issues involving the rights of underserved taxpayers, and her testimony before the National Commission on Restructuring the Internal Revenue Service in 1997 was widely considered to be instrumental in achieving federal funding for non-profit low-income taxpayer clinics.
“Janet Spragens has been a mentor to many lawyers, such as me, who have been inspired and influenced by her considerable commitment to the pro bono community and to the welfare of low-income taxpayers,” said Les Book, professor of law and director of the Federal Tax Clinic at the Villanova University School of Law. “Her influence in the area of tax law will long be felt by those Americans who need it most and by those of us in the profession who have been guided by her work. She is truly a pioneer in the field of legal representation for low income taxpayers.”
Spragens began her legal career as a clerk for D.C. Federal District Court Judge Oliver Gasch, and then as an attorney with the Appellate Section of the Justice Department Tax Division. In 1973, she joined the faculty at the American University Washington College of Law, and has been a tax professor there since that time. Her many outside activities have included visiting professorships at Northwestern University, the University of San Diego, and law schools in Israel, Chile and China. She has served as executive director of the American Tax Policy Institute (1996-2001), and has long been active in the American Bar Association Section of Taxation, as a member of the council, and former chair, of the section’s Low Income Taxpayer and Teaching Taxation committees.