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