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Inmate Tax Assistance Project

Background

The Inmate Tax Assistance Project is a collaboration between the ABA Tax Section and the Center for Taxpayer Rights to assist formerly and currently incarcerated people resolve tax issues. The project’s initial undertaking will be to assist incarcerated and recently released taxpayers seeking the stimulus payments for which they are eligible. These taxpayers have encountered barriers related to identity verification, address changes, and inability to easily communicate with the IRS. Subsequent representation may include substantive matters related to audits or collection, and procedural matters related to notice, access to hearings, and participation in Tax Court proceedings.

Common issues that will be addressed by volunteers include:

  • Identity verification
  • Identity theft
  • Refund trace
  • Refund offset
  • Non-filing of tax 2020 and/or 2021 returns

Given the April 2024 filing deadline for 2020 tax returns eligible for refunds, the initial focus will be on addressing the stimulus related issues. Once that immediate need has been met, the initiative will also seek to assist currently and formerly incarcerated people with more complicated tax issues. Examples include: 

  • Outstanding balances
  • Identity theft
  • Non-filing of tax returns
  • Audits
  • Substitute-for-returns

Experience, Training, Resources

Experience with tax pro bono matters is not required but volunteers should have a tax law background and be licensed to practice law and in good standing with a state bar. Admission to practice before the Tax Court may be helpful in some cases.

A mandatory training was held on October 24 at 2:30pm ET. View the recording here:

Templates

Time Commitment

We estimate that the initial tranche of stimulus claims cases will require less than 10 hours total per case.

Volunteer Registration

Whether you are interested in the immediate stimulus assistance initiative or other representation efforts, please register as a volunteer through CTR’s LITC Connect page.

New users should create a profile and be sure to check ‘Other > Inmate Tax Assistance Project’ as a controversy.

Existing users can edit their profile to add “Inmate Tax Assistance Project” as a controversy by logging in and selecting “Edit Profile.” 

LITC Registration

LITCs interested in submitting cases to be assigned to a volunteer through the project should also register through LITC Connect and check the boxes referenced above. 

Matching Process and Timeline

Once an LITC submits an assistance request, LITC Connect’s algorithm identifies potential volunteers.  The Center’s Volunteer Coordinator, Dulce Mascorro, will then contact potential volunteers to discuss the possibility of their accepting a referral and representation.   Dulce will also confirm the volunteer is in good standing with the appropriate licensing agencies. 

Questions?

Feel free to reach out to Dulce at [email protected] or Michelle Aguirre from the ABA Tax Section at [email protected]