Bar News - July 16, 2010
Good News from the Low-Income Taxpayer Project
Mary was only 50-years old and working full time cleaning homes when she learned she would no longer be able to work due to health issues, including degenerative disk disease and severe arthritis in her spine and hands. With social security as her only income, she struggled to adjust to a fixed income that barely paid for her basic living expenses. She also learned that the IRS was trying to collect taxes from her. Unable to resolve the issue, the IRS began to levy her limited social security income. The reduction in her social security made it impossible for Mary to meet even her basic needs.
With the help of a Pro Bono Low-Income Taxpayer Project (LITP) volunteer attorney, Mary was able to resolve her tax issues. The attorney worked to get the levy stopped, and the client was refunded the past levied funds. The attorney’s advocacy made a significant difference in Mary’s life, as she described in her own words: "I was very pleased with my attorney. He treated me with dignity and respect. His help in resolving my burden with the IRS made my day-to-day living expenses more manageable. I live on a fixed income, with no possibility of returning to work. [My attorney] is truly one of the good guys. God bless him."
Seven Years of Helping
Since 2003, with a Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic grant from the IRS, the Pro Bono LITP has been helping clients like Mary who are unable to resolve their tax problems on their own. Volunteer attorneys, accountants and enrolled agents devote their time to assist financially eligible taxpayers in need. In an effort to educate volunteers and recruit new tax professionals, the LITP holds an annual volunteer training. On May 11, 2010, the LITP went "Back to Basics" with a half-day training held at the NH Bar Center in Concord.
Professor Diana Leyden of the University of Connecticut School of Law Tax Clinic led the seminar and covered timely topics, such as navigating the different functions of the IRS, exploring collection alternatives, and completing an IRS financial information statement.
Twenty volunteers, both new and experienced practitioners, attended the program; from this training, the project gained many new volunteers, several of whom are already working on their first Pro Bono tax cases. The LITP thanks all who attended the training for their willingness to help low-income taxpayers in New Hampshire who are in need of advocacy to resolve their IRS disputes.
Law Students Volunteer with LITP
The LITP is pleased to announce that two Franklin Pierce Law Center students have joined the project team as student interns. The LITP connected with both students at Pierce Law’s Tabletalk Program in January. Lillian Bozonie will be a third-year student next year and has been volunteering with the LITP since March. Lillian brings a great deal of enthusiasm and experience to the project. Her past work includes positions in software engineering and development. She is focusing her efforts at the LITP on developing the project’s volunteer e-newsletter as well as on helping with case review and supporting the work of our volunteers.
The first e-newsletter was sent to volunteers in June, and Lillian recently prepared a memorandum of law for a volunteer who was litigating a case in the US Tax Court. She is also the 2010 ABA Tax Section’s Law Student Liaison.
Jordan Wilcox will be a second year student at Franklin Pierce Law Center next year and began volunteering with the LITP in May. With an interest in tax law and strong research skills, Jordan has already proved to be an asset to the LITP. He will be working on several research projects throughout the summer, as well as helping with case work as needed.
Professor Diana Leyden and LITP Coordinator Joceline Champagne
New volunteers at LITP Clinic.
A Gift from the
Bar’s Tax Section
The LITP also extends a sincere and heartfelt thank you to the NH Bar Association’s Tax Section for its recent donation to the project. The Section’s support of the work of the LITP is very much appreciated, especially during these difficult economic times.
If you are interested in learning more about the LITP or volunteering to help low-income taxpayers in your community, please contact the Project Coordinator, Joceline Champagne, at 603-715-3262. For those of you already part of the project, we thank you for your continued support.