Low Income Taxpayer Clinics
If you have a client that cannot afford to pay for representation before the IRS or in court, they may qualify for assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC).
An LITC is a qualified organization that represents low income taxpayers before the IRS or in court, assists taxpayers in audits, appeals and collection disputes. LITCs can also help taxpayers respond to IRS notices and correct account problems. LITCs receive money from the IRS to provide controversy services, English as a second language (ESL) services or both.
LITCs are independent from the IRS but they receive partial funding from the IRS via the LITC grant program. In addition to helping individuals resolve problems with the IRS, LITCs also provide information to taxpayers about different tax issues. Many LITCs offer information sessions as well as one-on-one classes that educate individuals about the rights and responsibilities of U.S. taxpayers.
Many LITCs are non-profit organizations exempt from tax under IRC § 501(a) or clinical programs at accredited law, business, or accounting schools. Each clinic determines if prospective clients meet the income poverty guidelines and other criteria before it agrees to represent that client.
Most LITCs can provide representation before the IRS or in court or on audits, appeals, tax collection disputes, and other issues for free or for a nominal fee. Some LITCs provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in several languages for ESL individuals.
LITCs generally do not provide tax preparation services but refer clients to:
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs
- Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites
- IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers, where available
If you have a client who cannot afford to pay for representation before the IRS or in court, they may qualify for assistance from a LITC. Find out more about qualifying criteria by visiting the LITC Assistance page on www.irs.gov.
The Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) Program, administered by TAS, has issued a 2014 Program Report. The report summarizes how clinics assist thousands of low income taxpayers through pro bono representation, education and advocacy efforts. The report includes examples of how the clinics assist taxpayers daily.
Volunteer at a LITC
The IRS recognizes tax professionals generously give to their communities in a variety of ways. One important opportunity available to you is to provide services to those who do not have the means to hire a tax professional. LITCs need tax professionals such as you to provide pro bono services. Some LITCs offer free tax education courses in exchange for volunteering at the clinic.
How do I start an LITC?
Publication 3319, LITC Grant Application Package and Guidelines, outlines requirements for the operation of an LITC and provides instructions on how to apply for a matching grant. The 2014 application period opens May 28, 2013, and closes July 12, 2013. Organizations that must submit a full application must do so via Grants.gov and those that do not must complete their application in Grant Solutions.
If your client is experiencing economic harm or a systemic problem, or they need help in resolving tax problems that have not been resolved through normal IRS channels, you may want to refer them to the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) for assistance. Find out who qualifies for help from TAS.
National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) Award recipient Mark Moreau and NTA Nina Olson at the recent 2013 LITC Conference in Washington, D.C.
Mark Moreau, the director of Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, has received the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) Award from NTA Nina Olson.
Mark was honored for his many years of work on behalf of low income taxpayers, especially for his leadership and dedication following Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf oil spill. Mark led SLLS in delivering urgent legal assistance to tens of thousands of low income hurricane victims, and in coordinating a multi-state legal effort to help oil-spill victims gain access to the claims process. Mark has also been nominated for the American Bar Association’s Janet R. Spragens Pro Bono Award, which is named for a champion of low income taxpayers.
“I can think of no one more deserving of these honors, and certainly no one more deserving of the National Taxpayer Advocate Award, than Mark Moreau,” said NTA Nina Olson.