March Madness Brackets-for-Good style was full tilt this year! #TeamJustice made it to the Supported Sixteen for the first time thanks to your generous support! During the Clinic’s 3-week run, we raised more than ever to provide free legal services to our low-income neighbors: $35,004! If you missed a chance to support us during this competitive-giving tournament, you can still donate to the Clinic here. And don’t forget to check out our Brackets-for-Good playlist to watch the videos we released each week!
What are common misconceptions about the IRS? What tips do you need to know to avoid tax scams? And what can you do if you become the victim of a tax scam or identity theft? In this episode of Courting Justice, senior staff attorney and Director of the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic Dee Dee Gowan joins Betsy Isenberg, Director of the Consumer Protection Division at the Office of the Indiana Attorney General, in answering these questions.
Last year, veteran John Cooper* chose to visit our Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) when he realized he needed help sorting out his tax debt with the IRS. After sustaining an injury to his leg years earlier, John was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps. Since that time, thanks in part to his disability, John struggled to find steady work.
When someone faces an issue with the IRS, Dee Dee says, “The first thing we have to do is get them in filing compliance so they can access some of the programs that the IRS has to deal with what you owe.” Ultimately, the cost of not resolving these issues can be very high. “Sometimes we’ve found out when someone owed and then didn’t file for years, it was actually erroneous and by not filing they didn’t get refunds that they could have gotten.”
Our organizing theme for JFA 2015 was Renewal. At the event, Executive Director Chris Purnell talked about where we’re headed as an organization and why renewed passion and purpose for Christ and for our clients is so important. He then told the story of a couple he was able to assist early in his career at the Clinic. After he helped the couple, the wife mentioned it was her birthday and began crying. When Chris asked her why she was crying, the woman responded, “This is the best gift I’ve ever received.” Chris then asked attendees to prayerfully consider a donation to the Clinic, reminding them that this donation might be the best gift someone else has ever received.
Every year, thousands of refugees flee to the United States, seeking protection from the violence and persecution they face in their home country. Many mention their hope in finding a new life and a fresh start in the U.S.; they are excited to be able to give their children and family members a new place to call home. What they do not dream of are the difficulties they may face when they get here, like financial woes, hard-to-understand tax codes, or the language barriers that will make it hard for them to leverage the fresh start they’re hoping for in a successful way.