When Nebraska residents need tax assistance on tax controversy issues, they turn to Legal Aid of Nebraska’s virtual Low-Income Tax Clinic (LITC). Tax controversy is the practice area of tax disputes with organizations such as the IRS or Department of Revenue.
“The LITC provides tax consultations to anyone, regardless of income level. However, we can only represent clients who are under the 250% poverty threshold with an income tax controversy with the IRS in which the amount in controversy does not exceed $50,000 per tax year,” said Shirley Peng, Managing Attorney for the LITC.
“Taxes are one of the scariest things for people,” said Shailana Dunn-Wall, Fellowship Staff Attorney at Legal Aid of Nebraska. According to an article in Business Insider, Americans are more scared of the IRS than they are of death.
Dunn-Wall is a Christine A. Brunswick Public Service Fellow on behalf of the American Bar Association and a graduate of University of Nebraska College of Law.
“The LITC creates the opportunity for a lot more people to be able to get services and help with their taxes,” she said. Dunn-Wall specializes in assisting clients understand the Earned Income Tax Credit with the goal of increasing the percentage of eligible taxpayers who claim the credit by filing a tax return.
LITC helps families solve:
- Navigating an audit
- Securing eligible credits and deductions
- Assisting with setting up payment plans
Receiving a letter from the IRS is challenging, Dunn-Wall said. “They contain a lot of jargon and can be confusing and difficult to understand.” She says that being stressed about the letter makes it even more difficult to understand.
The LITC team is on hand to help people through this time.
What to expect
“The Tax Code and federal income tax requirements can be confusing,” Dunn-Wall said. “If someone gets into trouble with the IRS, they can face fines, liens against property, garnishment of income, and possible jail time. Sometimes you can receive a letter stating that you have a date with tax court.”
“Most of my clients want to pay their debts and are trying to do the right thing,” she said. That’s why the team can help them take the guesswork out of knowing the right IRS procedures and preventing missteps from happening.”
Tax court is once a year, either in April or May of each year and will be virtual this year, which improves accessibility as some clients won’t have to drive as far.
Dunn-Wall enjoys her job helping others through this process. “It’s really rewarding. I’m really lucky to work at Legal Aid.”
For questions and assistance with taxes, call the statewide COVID-19 Hotline at 1-844-268-5627 or AccessLine® at 1-877-250-2016. Online help can be found at http://www.lawhelpne.org
Tax concerns are a priority issue that affect all families. To assist the LITC assist more clients with tax concerns, visit https://www.legalaidofnebraska.org/donate
If you are interested in being part of our pro bono tax panel to assist with tax cases and/or file back taxes, please email [email protected].
Jen Litton, Development Coordinator at Legal Aid of Nebraska, is the author of this article.