New Fellowship Opportunities Expand Bookstein Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic Reach

  • A California State University, Northridge student sits down to discuss taxes with a patron of the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic. Photo by Lee Choo.

  • Students attend a lecture on the different facets of tax preparation. Photo by Lee Choo.

Facing the Internal Revenue Service can be a scary thing — particularly if you have a dispute and must face an auditor on your own. Since 2008, California State University, Northridge has offered a solution to this ordeal. 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 Harvey Bookstein ’70, CPA, offers a number of initiatives including the Bookstein Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic, which opened in 2008.

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 also will receive informal mentorship from tax professionals at Tax Defense Partners, attend the calendar hearing of the U.S. Tax Court in downtown LA 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 speak at events on campus. Those events will include discussions related to Introduction to Federal Tax Procedure courses and a 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. “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,” Compton continued. “We realized that a meaningful collaboration with CSUN could truly help to make a difference.”

At the clinic, graduate tax and undergraduate accounting students receive training in federal tax procedure and experiential learning opportunities by directly handling tax resolution matters on behalf of low-income taxpayers, in front of an IRS revenue agent.

According to Rafi Efrat ’89 (Accounting), CSUN’s Bookstein Chair in Taxation, the clinic is 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 explained. “To provide uninterrupted service year-round, the clinic must rely on student interns to continue working on cases during the winter and summer.”


Efrat said he 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,” Efrat said. “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.”