Congratulations to MVLS’ Director of IT and staff attorney Matthew Stubenberg who was recently selected to receive the Maryland Bar Foundation’s Legal Excellence Award for the Advancement of the Rights of the Disadvantaged for his utilization of technology to solve access to justice issues, specifically criminal record expungements. Matthew will receive his award on Thursday October 27 at the 24th Annual Professional Legal Excellence Awards Reception.
Thank you to the 250 guests and 16 sponsors who helped MVLS celebrate our volunteers, donors, board members, and our 35th anniversary at Celebrate Pro Bono on October 5. We’re so pleased to report that we raised over $6,000 at the event during Pledge for Pro Bono. Combined with sponsorships and donations received before the event, Celebrate Pro Bono raised over $33,000 to support pro bono legal services!
Photos from the event are available on our Facebook page.
Congratulations to Amy Hennen, MVLS’ Managing Attorney of Consumer and Housing Law, who was recently named one of Maryland’s Leading Women by the Daily Record. Leading Women identifies women who are 40 years old or younger for the tremendous accomplishments then have made so far in their career. Judging criteria includes professional experience, community involvement and a commitment to inspiring change. Amy will receive her award on December 5, 2016. For tickets to the award ceremony or more information, visit http://thedailyrecord.com/leading-women/.
On October 6, 2016, Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland will launch Maryland’s Free Legal Answers website that will allow low-income Marylanders to submit civil legal questions online. They are looking for volunteer lawyers to provide answers to these questions. (more…)
Last year, MVLS assisted 115 clients through our Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) program. Claudette* recently become a client of MVLS and has a very powerful story about how a volunteer attorney turned her life around.
Claudette is 90 years old and lives alone in Catonsville, in an apartment complex for the elderly. Until her recent foot surgery, she was independent and drove herself wherever she needed to go. Like many elderly people, she had a fixed income and between pensions and social security, she made about $16,000 annually.
Like many individuals on social security, she thought that she didn’t have to pay taxes. Unfortunately, she made too much money – and she did owe taxes. The filing threshold for 2015 for her age group was $11,850.
Her outstanding tax debt to the IRS was $500. She didn’t have any money to pay the whole debt, and no money for an installment plan. The IRS put a levy on her social security, and took 15% of her social security. When she found out this information she immediately called MVLS for help.
A volunteer attorney was able to take the case and get Claudette back into compliance with her tax filing with the help of Baltimore CASH, and a “Currently Not Collectible” status was obtained for her accounts, allowing the levy to be lifted. Claudette still has outstanding tax debt associated with not paying her taxes, but the levy has been lifted, allowing her to get her full amount of social security benefits.
The LITC program is available to help low-income individuals with tax controversy issues like Claudette’s. While it can be scary having the IRS contact you with an issue, MVLS is here to help. We are not done helping Claudette, and her volunteer attorney is currently looking at other collection alternatives for her debt.
The LITC program is currently accepting new tax controversy cases and volunteer applications. Please reach out to LITC Managing Attorney Janice Shih for more information.
*Name has been changed
The Maryland Judiciary has created two new videos in partnership with MVLS to help Maryland homeowners understand the foreclosure legal process, including mediation. The videos, “The Foreclosure Process” and “Foreclosure Mediation,” provide information about what foreclosure is and what happens during mediation. (more…)