SCLS’ Low Income Taxpayer Clinic provides free legal assistance to people who have tax issues with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). We provide legal representation in federal tax cases involving:
- Collection issues, including offers-in-compromise, installment agreements and currently-not-collectible status
- Examination, including audit reconsideration
- Innocent and injured spouse claims
- Tax Court litigation
- Identity theft
- Cancellation of debt income
The attorneys’ services are free if you qualify, however the taxpayer could be liable for any expense or cost imposed by the Court and/or IRS. Our clinic is independent of the IRS and the South Carolina Department of Revenue. The LITC serves low-income individuals in all languages. Your calls and inquiries are confidential.
The LITC not only provides legal assistance to those who have problems with the IRS, we also provide educational services to inform the taxpayer of their rights and responsibilities with the IRS. We organize and attend educational events for English and non-English speaking communities.
Who Qualifies For Our Services?
The SCLS Low Income Taxpayer Clinic serves South Carolina’s Low Income taxpayers who have a tax dispute with the IRS. The SCLS Low Income Taxpayer Clinic does not handle cases when the tax debt exceeds $ 50,000 for any tax year. Not all cases are accepted for representation due to limited staff capacity. Each taxpayer’s situation is evaluated individually to determine eligibility. Among the factors we considered are:
- Current gross income;
- Personal Assets;
- Number of people live in the house;
- The nature and complexity of the tax issue
To determine if the person qualifies for legal assistance, we use the poverty guidelines published annually by the Department of Health and Human Services. The taxpayer’s gross income cannot exceed 250% of the poverty level.
For 2019, the maximum income limits to qualify for representation are:
|Household/Family Size||48 Contiguous States, D.C., and Puerto Rico||Alaska||Hawaii|
|each additional person||$12,850||$16,075||$14,775|
Type of Tax Cases We Handle
- Innocent Spouse Relief – Have you received a bill from the IRS for taxes on income you spouse earned? Do you believe it is unfair to hold you liable for this debt? Depending on your circumstances, your knowledge of the debt, current marital status and other factors such as spousal abuse, you may qualify for relief as an Innocent Spouse.
- Injured Spouse Claims – Has your tax refund been withheld to pay a debt your spouse incurred before you were married, such as federal or state income tax debt, child support debt or a recently defaulted student loan? If you filed a joint return, which included your income and tax credits on the return (tax withholdings or Earned Income Credit), you may have some relief. We can help you file the Injured Spouse Claim and provide representation if the IRS denies the claim.
- Filing Status and Exemptions Challenged – Have you received a letter from the IRS telling you that your return has been audited or examined? The IRS may be reviewing your filing status, such as Head of Household, or certain claimed deductions or credits (dependent exemptions, Earned Income Credit, Child Tax Credits). We can help you prepare the evidence requested, file a request to reconsider, attend meetings with IRS employees on your behalf, or represent you during an appeal.
- Earned Income Tax Credit Appeals – Have you ever received a letter from the IRS stating your Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) has been denied, or your refund frozen? If the IRS determines that the error was reckless or intentional, you cannot claim the EITC for the next two years. However, if the IRS finds the error was fraudulent, you cannot claim the EITC for the next ten years. We may help you appeal the EITC denial and keep your right to claim the EITC in the future.
- Hardship Exemption For Collecton – Are you living on a very limited income? Has the IRS garnished your Social Security Benefits, wages, and/or bank accounts? Do you have unusually high medical expenses and yet the IRS is threatening to levy your income? We can help you analyze your financial situation, determine if you can make and Installment Payment or if you qualify for currently not collectible hardship status.
- Notice of Deficiency Letters From the IRS – Have you received a “Notice” from the IRS stating there is a “deficiency” in your taxes and that you have 90 days to file a Tax Court Petition? We can help you settle the matter or file a petition in the US tax court. We can represent you in the U. S. Tax court even if you have already filed a petition on your own (pro se) if you qualify for services.
- Liens and Levies – Have you received a notice that the IRS plans to file a lien on your property or a notice that the IRS will levy your property, levy your Social Security, or garnish your wages? We can help you ask for a Collections Due Process Hearing to determine whether the IRS can place a lien on your property or levy your income.
- Negotiations and/or Settlements of Tax Debt – Can you pay your tax debt? We may be able to help you with the following options:
- Enter an installment agreement
- Make an Offer in Compromise
- Request a Taxpayer Assistance Order
- Request temporary suspension of collection
- Challenge the tax if the period has not expired or the IRS failed to follow the proper procedure
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
EITC is a tax credit that reduces the taxes you owe and may give you a refund. This credit is for people who have earned income from working for someone or are self-employed. Click here to learn more.
Currently, South Carolina Legal Services has nine offices that provide legal assistance to South Carolina residents. If you want to know if you qualify for legal aid regarding a tax problem with the IRS or any other civil case, you can call us at 1-888-346-5592.
If you want our paralegal or any of our tax attorneys to offer a tax presentation, contact Ms. Christina Gebbia at 864-679-3258 or 1-800-763-4825, Ext.3258.