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Helping hands: Low Income Taxpayer Clinic provides education about taxpayer rights

Robert Hamilton
Robert Hamilton Photo provided

The arrival of the holiday season also means that in a few short months Americans will begin filing their 2015 federal income taxes. This can be a complicated procedure for some, especially if you end up owing money or being audited by the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS is a powerful creditor that can impose liens or levies on your property (or right to property) until such debt is paid in full.

Simply because you owe the IRS money does not mean that you need to panic. The Internal Revenue Code contains various tax relief options for taxpayers that make managing your debt and dealing with the IRS a much less stressful endeavor. However, not all Americans can afford representation in resolving their income tax disputes.

In this respect, the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic at MidPenn Legal Services serves a vital role in central Pennsylvania. LITCs are organizations that receive matching grants from the IRS to provide free assistance to low-income individuals in tax audits, appeals and collection disputes. We not only help taxpayers respond to IRS notices, we assist in correcting account problems, settling tax debts, stopping IRS liens and levies, and in protecting against identity theft, just to name a few. We do not prepare tax returns, but we do provide education about taxpayer rights to individuals, particularly those for whom English is a second language.

Although LITCs receive partial funding from the IRS, its employees and volunteers are completely independent from the federal government. In order to qualify for free legal assistance, a taxpayer’s income must be less than 250 percent of the current year’s federal poverty level guidelines, and the amount in dispute per tax year should be less than $50,000. If you meet these eligibility guidelines and need assistance in resolving a tax dispute with the IRS but cannot afford representation, we encourage you to contact us at 1-844-675-7829.

Robert B. Hamilton is managing attorney at MidPenn Legal Services Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.