New Tax, Poverty, and Justice Clinic Addresses Driver’s License Suspensions


Over 24,000 New Yorkers have suspended driver’s licenses because they owe $10,000 or more in past due taxes. The new Tax, Poverty and Justice Clinic is working to amend the law that allows the suspension, NYS Tax Law §171-v, to carve out a hardship exception for those taxpayers who are too poor to pay their taxes. The clinic is a collaboration between the Federal Tax Clinic, under the supervision of Professor Elizabeth Maresca, and the Legislative and Policy Advocacy Clinic, under the supervision of Professor Elizabeth Cooper.

Depriving low-income New Yorkers of their driver’s licenses only decreases their ability to pay their tax debt. Using direct legislative advocacy efforts, the clinic students and two professors will be traveling to Albany this semester to speak with Assembly and Senate members and their staffers to advocate for a fair and just statute that protects at-risk New Yorkers from the disastrous consequences of living without a driver’s license.

Pictured above are clinic students Sam Zuckerman, Rachel Smith, and Daria Schieferstein, who had a successful day of meeting with legislators and testifying before the New York State Assembly and Senate Joint Budget Hearing on Taxes despite a snowstorm. (Not pictured: Gaby Kornblau and Elaina Aquila).


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