Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC): Equal Access to Financial Assistance

Financial services are not just for the wealthy. Issues such as taxes and victimization from financial fraud have a disparate impact on those with low-incomes. During 2012, API Legal Outreach continued its Low Income Tax Clinic (LITC) Project, which provides information, advice and legal assistance on a variety of IRS tax issues to low income individuals and families. LITC issues are part of the holistic services that we strive to offer our clients. For example, when we represent a client who is a survivor of domestic violence in her divorce case, we will also help her with any tax issues that arise.

API Legal Outreach’s Low Income Tax Clinic not only served seniors with tax matters but also expanded to assist a wide variety of taxpayers with tax related controversies. Project attorneys helped settle controversies by arranging installment plans, offer and compromise settlements, and other tax remedies. Further, by affirmatively offering services to our senior communities, we hope to prevent them from falling prey to those who target seniors for fraud.

API Legal Outreach is unique among LITC programs because we offer services in a multitude of Asian and other languages. We focus our LITC work in three areas: (1) tax issues that particularly affect low-income immigrants; (2) the intersection of tax issues with our domestic violence practice; and (3) helping low-income clients who want to resolve their IRS tax debt.

In one case story that illustrates the importance of the LITC project for our clients, API Legal Outreach represented limited English speaking clients who were denied a First Time Home Buyer Credit due to their immigration status. They tried to resolve the issue on their own, but when that did not work, they called API Legal Outreach. We communicated with our clients in their native language, Vietnamese, helped them appeal the denial, and ultimately convinced the IRS to grant the credit.

The project also presented numerous multi-lingual outreach workshops in the community, providing information on tax laws and such matters as earned income credit, innocent spouse relief, injured spouse relief and tax rebates.