LITC Volunteer Information
How can tax be pro bono? Do you help people file their tax returns for free?
Good question! KYCC actually already has a program to help low- and moderate-income individuals file their tax returns for free, but that’s not what LITC does.
So, what does KYCC’s LITC do?
We help low income taxpayers respond to the IRS when they get a letter asking for either information or money. In tax lingo, we call this a “tax controversy” – doesn’t this sound so innocuous? Sometimes, the IRS letter could be requesting for something as simple as proof of marital status or that your child lived with you for a majority of the tax year. But for a stressed-out single mom who shares custody and has a complicated situation, the task of proving that your child lived with you for most of the year can feel like climbing Mt. Everest.
Sometimes, the IRS letter comes wrapped in the green-certified mailer that requires a signature. This alone can be enough to scare the ESL client. I know partners at law firms that tremble when they get an IRS notice—imagine how it feels when you are a newly arrived immigrant. Usually, our clients have a bit of a messy situation where they feel at a loss for how to respond, because of their unique circumstances.
Read this article written by KYCC’s Managing Attorney, describing how proving your marital status could result in a $5000 difference in a tax refund. Sometimes, if taxpayers are timely in their responses, they can request judicial review at tax court.
Sounds interesting. I’d like to help but I don’t have experience with tax controversy, nor have I ever gone to tax court. Can I still volunteer?
Can you read? I’m being cheeky, but half-serious. Half the problems our clients have just need someone with a background in tax to read calmly, methodically, and thoroughly exactly what the IRS letter says and look up all the referred publications and FAQs on the IRS website. It can be difficult for taxpayers to objectively read their IRS notice written in tax jargon, when the only understandable part concludes that you owe them $7852 right now and please pay within 10 days to avoid penalties and interest. The heart starts racing and suddenly if feels as if SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS is written in blinking red marquee lights.
With COVID-19 issues, there are over 1.5 million notices with wrong dates which can be very confusing. So, another ‘lens’ through which our volunteers have to read IRS letters through, is to analyze them to make sure individuals do not inadvertently give up their appeal rights to protest a premature assessment. This is not a simple, “read the publication and respond to the IRS” problem but requires an understanding that there are simply times when the IRS is just plain wrong. We have a KYCC LITC newsletter and keep our subscribers updated on potential “wrong notices” or other matters to watch for when dealing with low-income taxpayer issues. Sign up here, if you’d like to join our newsletter.
What would it look like if I volunteered? Are there remote options? How long a commitment is it? Any minimum requirements?
If you’ve read this far, I want to encourage you to submit your information through this online form. We do require volunteers to have credentials in good standing as a/an: Enrolled Agent, Certified Public Accountant, or Attorney (any state). Different opportunities exist for different experience levels and time commitments. Because there are a variety of work schedules and everyone has different seasons of “busy,” there are also a variety of configurations volunteering with KYCC’s LITC.
We are actively recruiting and seeking volunteers for the following positions:
• Remote/In-person. 1 day per quarter. Experienced Spanish speaking Controversy Practitioner with a CAF #. We are seeking volunteers experienced with administrative relief and appeals. If you have experience calling PPS/Collections/IVO to unravel and ‘diagnose’ taxpayer issues; we are looking for volunteers to help Spanish speaking taxpayers during “Problem Solving Day” events held quarterly at KYCC. This volunteer opportunity does not require signing a 2848 or continued representation.
• Remote/In-person. 1 – 2 afternoons per month. Experienced Tax Attorney / USTC Practitioner admitted to practice before the Tax Court. We are seeking volunteer pro bono counsel to assist with Virtual Settlement Day at the Los Angeles (and potentially Laguna Nigel) trial calendar locations. This volunteer opportunity does not require signing a 2848 or continued representation. Assuming the taxpayer meets our grant guidelines and criteria, the clinic may continue representation and the volunteer could also mentor the clinic if it enters an appearance.
• Remote/In-person. ~ 10 – 15 hours. Experienced CPA/EA with PTIN. Some taxpayers with controversies need to file prior-year tax returns in order to be currently compliant to be eligible for collection alternatives. Also, survivors of domestic violence taxpayers often need to file a competing Married Filing Separate (MFS) return in response to an invalid Married Filing Joint return filed by the Abuser. Volunteer tax sites do not do MFS returns.
What does the process of becoming a KYCC LITC volunteer look like?