Utah’s Centro Hispano LITC recently needed a new home from which to serve taxpayers. Thinking outside the box, the clinic asked a nearby museum, The Leonardo, Museum of Creativity and Innovation, to share its office space. As a participant in the Museums for All initiative, The Leonardo recognized the opportunity to increase access to its facility and help another local community service organization. It agreed to house the Centro Hispano LITC, and an exciting new partnership was born.
With the May 3, 2021, opening of the 2022 LITC grant application period, the Taxpayer Advocate Service is also seeking partners who are not only ardent advocates for low-income individuals but also who may have a flair for finding new and innovative ways to provide access to services for vulnerable taxpayers facing unprecedented challenges. The LITC Program is a matching federal grant program that provides up to $100,000 per year to qualified organizations to represent low-income taxpayers in controversies with the IRS and educate taxpayers who speak English as a second language (ESL). In a previous blog, Not All Superheroes Wear Capes: Join the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic Community and Be a Hero to Taxpayers Most in Need, I shared some of the extraordinary efforts of LITCs and the difference they make each and every day in the lives of taxpayers.
The creative partnership initiated by Centro Hispano LITC will provide low-income and ESL taxpayers convenient access to the clinic’s services in downtown Salt Lake City. But now, taxpayers who visit Centro Hispano LITC for assistance will also have the opportunity to explore the many educational programs offered by The Leonardo. “Centro Hispano will soon move into The Leonardo,” said Centro Hispano LITC Clinic Director Sherry Almquist. “We were looking for a partner to house our offices that would also help us work with low-income taxpayers. The Leonardo’s offer to welcome us, and our taxpayers, just expanded the opportunities available to them.” For example, The Leonardo is offering summer camps for children of all ages to explore subjects in science, technology, engineering, and math. So, a low-income taxpayer may come to the LITC for help with a tax issue and walk out with tax assistance and an affordable option for summer science camp for his or her minor child or access to an art exhibit that he or she may not have known about otherwise.
This “win-win” arrangement is just one of the many creative ways that LITCs are enriching the lives of taxpayers in their communities. Many LITCs have also increased their social media presence and developed inventive ways to virtually interact with individual taxpayers and larger groups, expanding the opportunities for taxpayers to receive assistance. LITCs that are part of a larger organization frequently partner with its other programs or practice areas that assist low-income individuals with matters such as housing, employment, immigration, and domestic violence to holistically address client needs. Many of these organizations now screen all potential clients for tax issues as they often go hand-in-hand with other problems the individuals are experiencing.
From now until June 18, 2021, you can apply to join this group of modern day heroes for the 2022 grant year. If you share a passion for justice and public service, consider helping us grow the LITC presence in your community. We remain committed to achieving maximum access to representation for low-income taxpayers by having sufficient LITC coverage in each state, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Nevada, North Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Puerto Rico need the services of an LITC. Additionally, parts of Arizona, Florida, Idaho, and Pennsylvania have gaps in coverage. To ensure LITC assistance is available to all eligible taxpayers, priority consideration will be given to qualified applicants who can provide services in these underserved areas. Publication 3319, Low Income Taxpayer Clinics 2022 Grant Application Package and Guidelines, describes key program requirements and includes the most recent grant application package. I also encourage you to visit our LITC website to learn more about the program, and contact the LITC Program Office by phone at 202-317-4700 (not a toll-free number) or email with any questions you may have.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the National Taxpayer Advocate. The National Taxpayer Advocate presents an independent taxpayer perspective that does not necessarily reflect the position of the IRS, the Treasury Department, or the Office of Management and Budget.