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IndyBar: Pro Bono Opportunity Available for Tax Practitioners

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Have you found yourself wanting to use your tax knowledge to benefit members of the community? Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way? Now there is! The Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic (NCLC) has partnered with the IndyBar Tax Section to create a unique opportunity for tax practitioners to use their tax knowledge in a new way.

NCLC’s Low-income Tax Clinic (LITC) has operated since 2002, providing pro bono representation to low-income taxpayers in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service. It also conducts outreach and tax education to low-income and English-as-a-second-language (ESL) taxpayers.

In 2013, the LITC worked to resolve tax issues and provided legal counsel for 548 low-income taxpayers in Indiana. It negotiated with the IRS to stop levies, withdraw liens, set up workable payment plans, accept offers in compromise, resolve identity theft/tax preparer fraud issues, abate penalties as well as obtain favorable exam results and tax court settlements for the clinic’s clients. In doing so, LITC saved low-income neighbors a total of $263,266 in corrected tax liabilities and dollars refunded in 2013. The clinic also conducted 278 live tax education workshops for low-income and ESL taxpayers in Indiana to help them going forward.

LITC volunteers help on several fronts. Here are some of the current needs:

Tax Return Preparation: Most of our low-income neighbors who face tax controversies with the IRS have stopped filing their tax returns, and the IRS requires that taxpayers be in filing compliance before the IRS will consider most collection alternatives (payment plans, offers in compromise, etc.). Helping to get clients in filing compliance is one need.

Offers-in-Compromise (OIC): In recent years, the IRS has streamlined its offer-in-compromise program. The acceptance rate a few years ago was a meager 20 percent. Today, it is nearly 80 percent. Helping LITC file more OICs for clients is another need.

Litigation: The clinic does not have many cases that require litigation, but when it does, it would like to have some volunteers with tax court litigation experience to call upon.

Tax Experts: It would be helpful to have tax experts who can be called for short teleconferences to discuss new and complex tax issues that are encountered.

If this opportunity piques your interest, consider joining the NCLC/LITC in seeking justice and helping our low-income neighbors navigate the IRS. To sign up , email Dee Dee Gowan, Senior Attorney and Low-income Tax Clinic Director at NCLC, at dgowan@nclegalclinic.org.•

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