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Legal Aid offers free legal help with tax problems

by Tonya Sams

(Plain Press, February 2022)  Tax season is headed our way faster than lake effect snow, and there are many community organizations helping Northeast Ohio residents with tax preparation.  

     The pandemic has affected how and when we file taxes, as well as what we file. One of the most recent federal tax policy changes is the Child Tax Credit. The Child Tax Credit gives up to $3,000 for each dependent child under the age of 17 and $3,600 if under the age of 6. Through this program, taxpayers may also qualify for a refund if the unused tax credit is larger than the total amount of their tax bill. 

     If you have questions, you definitely need to reach-out for help!   You can call 2-1-1 to find free tax prep help near you or visit www.lasclev.org/taxhelp for a list of organizations that help you file taxes for free.

     In addition to great community resources that help you file taxes, Legal Aid is here to help with legal problems related to taxes.  Legal Aid has a tax practice that works closely with community organizations not just during tax season, but throughout the year.  Legal Aid’s Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) is a free legal service that helps to resolve taxpayer disputes with the IRS regarding federal income tax matters.

     Legal Aid helps people resolve legal issues related to tax issues.  For example, Legal Aid attorneys can help people negotiate with the IRS to settle a debt for less than the full amount owed, or lower/eliminate taxable income from debts that were forgiven from banks and credit card companies.

     Legal Aid also helps: Prevent the IRS from taking property, wages, and social security benefits; Solve identity theft problems; Correct tax preparer fraud; Help H-2A workers file taxes (an important step towards gaining citizenship); Help people obtain income tax records; Protect against spousal abuses in connection with tax returns; Advise taxpayers on their rights and obligations regarding the health care marketplace; …and more!

     Legal Aid recently helped “Thomas” with a tax problem that needed an attorney’s help (name changed for privacy). Thomas owed the IRS five years’ worth of taxes. The liens affected his credit report, which created a domino effect. When employers conducted background checks and saw the tax liens, they didn’t want to hire Thomas, and financing companies wouldn’t loan him money to make much-needed repairs to his home.

     Thomas sought help through Legal Aid’s tax practice. The Legal Aid attorney discovered that the IRS had failed to release the liens it had filed, although the 10-year collection statute had expired. The attorney then reached out to the IRS as Thomas’s legal representative, requesting that Thomas be released from the liens. The IRS granted the request and Thomas could move forward with his job search without the worry of past tax issues destroying his chances at a new and better life. 

     You can learn more about our tax practice at www.lasclev.org/get-help/work/tax-problems.  If you run into a legal issue with your taxes, Legal Aid is here to help.  Call Legal Aid at 216-687-1900 or apply for help online 24/7 at www.lasclev.org.  

Tonya Sams is the Development and Communications Assistant at The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.

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