Tax law not taxing for LITC fellow

Headshot of woman smiling against backdrop of legal bookcase

The intricacies of tax law, for attorney Hannah Stephan, “Are puzzles to be solved and so very interesting because tax law impacts everyone’s life.” But she concedes, “Yes, it can be hard to figure out where things are coming from, but it’s satisfying when I can put the pieces together.”

As Legal Aid’s Christine A. Brunswick Public Service Fellow, Hannah has law school, a career in corporate sales forecasting and a finance degree in her background. A turning point in her career was time spent with AmeriCorps – Chicago, working in fair housing with the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights.

“I learned about real-life income discrimination that exists for those with section 8 vouchers.” This helped satisfy her curiosity about public interest law. But Hannah got the tax bug, clerking with Legal Aid. “First at Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) and then with Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, before I clerked with the State of Minnesota Court of Appeals then returned as a fellow to MMLA.”

Now, six months into her two-year fellowship with Legal Aid’s Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, Hannah thinks she’s found her calling. “I’ve also learned there’s a teaching element to tax law and I enjoy making something, that is challenging to understand, easy and simple.”

Like a rockstar whose honed her craft, Hannah is made for this next leg of her fellowship. She’s going on tour.

Yes, a Minnesota tax tour! In March and the beginning of April, I will be on the road headed to Moorhead, Hutchinson, Marshall, Willmar and Mahnomen.

You might call her the opener for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, a free tax return preparation service, funded by the IRS.

Hannah’s set list:

  • The LITC
  • Collection alternatives
  • Filing-return how-to’s
  • Getting audited
  • Identity theft
  • Worker classification

“What I’ve learned in my research is there are not many LITC attorneys in Minnesota. To be able to bring the expertise of tax law to people in Minnesota, who might not otherwise get this help, is another reason I’m glad to be a tax attorney.”

Hannah Stephan, tax attorney and LITC fellow

Her number one tax tip? Hannah says, “Don’t ignore a letter from the IRS! The sooner you address it, the less you may have to pay in penalties. Better yet, we may be able to find a no-cost solution to the problem.”

Hannah also encourages taxpayers to check out LITC Director Aisha Servaty’s Facebook Live series, “Tackling Your Taxes,” which covers a variety of tax issues that may be relevant to anyone with tax questions.

Visit our library to see our Low Income Tax Clinic brochures. Tell family and friends in greater Minnesota about Hannah’s tax tour dates. Final stop, Mahnomen, April 9.