The Rock Hill office held their first Open House event on Tuesday, December 10th for local attorneys, judges, agencies, and organizations. The event was well-attended. Staff were able to meet with members from the local domestic violence shelter, Rock Hill Housing Authority, and other local groups. State Representative Mike Fanning also attended along with several magistrates from Chester. Guests nibbled on delicious chicken salad sandwiches, mini cheesecakes, and fresh fruit and vegetables while discussing important matters effecting the community. Rock Hill staff and members of the community also discussed new ways to work together to help meet the legal needs of the community.
Articles from January 2020
The Federal Government Increases Special Education Budget by $400 million
The federal government is increasing the budget for special education services and South Carolina will receive a portion of the funds. Since the 1970’s, school districts have been required to provide certain services that students with disabilities need to meet basic goals. The federal government is supposed to provide 40% of the cost of special education services, but, historically, the federal government has only provided about 22% of the cost of special education. Instead, states and some local school districts pay the costs. However, even when federal government does provide the funds for special education, a few school districts in South Carolina have not been spending all the funds provided. Instead, they’ve sought waivers from the obligation to spend it all. The reasons why remain unclear.
School funding issues can be complicated. Regardless of where the funds are coming from, our focus is on assisting students in receiving the primary education and training needed for continued education, independent living and participation in the work force. School districts are required to provide special needs students with the services needed to achieve these goals. If a school has denied your child any of these services because of insufficient budget, ask them to verify that it has used all its federal funds. Additionally, ask whether unused funds from other budgets, programs or school districts can be used. Our goal is not to seek the most expensive programs or services, but rather to obtain adequate services. If your child has special needs, a school cannot justify its denials of services on the basis that it does not have the funds needed.
If you are having an issue with your child’s school district, South Carolina Legal Services may be able to help. You can apply for our free legal services by calling 1-888-346-5592 or online at https://www.lawhelp.org/sc/online-intake.
Earned Income Tax Credit
In an effort to educate and create awareness among the low-income taxpayers, taxpayers with disabilities and taxpayers with children, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) celebrates the National Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness day on January 31, 2020.
The Earned Income Tax Credit also known as EITC, is a tax credit that increases the taxpayer’s refund or reduces the amount of tax owed. To qualify for the EITC, the taxpayer must have earned income from working for someone or from running or owning a business or farm. EITC is one of the largest antipoverty programs. It is important to educate and create awareness about the EITC so those who qualify for this credit can claim it and take advantage of its benefits. Some of the taxpayers at risk for overlooking this credit includes grandparents raising a grandchild, workers without children, workers with limited English skills, workers living in rural areas, Native Americans workers, workers with earnings below the filing requirement, and workers who have disabilities or are raising children with disabilities
To claim this credit, the taxpayer must file a federal income tax return even if the taxpayer owes no tax or isn’t required to file a return. The EITC is a complex tax credit. It varies by income, family size and the taxpayer’s filing status. To qualify for the EITC, the taxpayer must meet the adjustable gross income limit or threshold. Taxpayers without qualifying children might qualify for the EITC if the taxpayer meets the income threshold. Children that are claimed as dependents for EITC purposes must meet all qualifying child rules.
The IRS estimates that four out of five eligible taxpayers claim and receive the EITC. Nationwide, during 2019, 25 million eligible workers and families received about $61 billion in EITC. During 2019, in South Carolina, 453,000 taxpayers claimed the EITC, 10,000 taxpayers less than in the 2018 tax year. The average amount of EITC received during 2019 in SC was $2,618.00.
The EITC is one of the most audited credits within the IRS. Taxpayers must keep records even if it is not the first time the taxpayer claimed this credit for the same children. During an EITC audit, the IRS will request that the taxpayer provide proof of relationship, residency, income and support for all the qualifying children claimed. The IRS has a 3-year statute of limitation to assess a tax return from the due date or the date the return was filed, whichever is later. Therefore, taxpayers should keep copies of their records for at least 5 years.
The IRS has created the EITC Assistant tool. This tool can verify if the taxpayer is eligible for EITC, and it can also help estimate the amount of the credit. To use this tool, taxpayers can visit the IRS website at https://www.irs.gov and type “EITC Assistant” in the search engine.
South Carolina Legal Services Low Income Taxpayer Clinic represents taxpayers that are wrongfully denied this credit. Our services are free. To apply for our services, please call 1-888-346-5592 or apply online at www.sclegal.org.