Anna Webb: Clinic offers free legal help for low-income Idahoans

awebb@idahostatesman.comOctober 8, 2013 

Love black dogs and want to help them get adopted? Join the Howl-O-Ween Black Dog Walk and Costume Contest on Sunday. See details below.

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The University of Idaho College of Law Tax Clinic is one of those local resources that is more under the radar than it should be, and that has the potential to be a big help to people in need.

The clinic offers free legal services for low- to moderate-income taxpayers who are currently having issues with the IRS.

Barbara Lock, an attorney and professor, oversees the program. Her third-year law students provide services under her guidance with the approval of the IRS.

The clinic has been open for about 12 years, the last three in Boise — ever since the U of I began offering third-year students the option to spend their final year of study here.

The clinic serves taxpayers throughout the Intermountain West. Eight students staff the clinic. Each is working on about four or five cases at a time.

Lock and her students have helped people with audits, appeals and collections issues. They also represent their clients in tax court. If a taxpayer has a state tax issue, the clinic staff can help him or her if it is connected to an IRS problem.

One of the most useful services the clinic can provide for people who don’t have the money to pay their tax bill, is working out a “cents on the dollar” payment with the IRS, said Lock.

“This is controversial to some people, but the truth is often our clients have fallen on hard times and are never going to be able to pay off their entire tax debts. The IRS acknowledges this through the offer in compromise process,” said Lock.

Lock shared stories about a couple of recent cases:

• “We represented a woman who owned a house framing business that failed after two years. She was not a business person and had her returns prepared by a shady adviser. Her business was audited for both years, and the IRS disallowed $30k in wage deductions the first year and $23k the second year. We helped her substantiate the deductions, and the IRS ultimately allowed a $27k wage deduction the first year.

For year two, we proved she was entitled to a $39k wage deduction instead of the $23k she claimed. Her additional tax bill was $400 instead of the IRS’ proposed $14k in year two, and the state dropped its pursuit of $4k in additional tax from her.

In the evaluation she completed for us, she said ‘… this is wonderful news! I can’t thank you and the students that worked diligently hard on our case enough. We are so thankful that we got your help. We appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts.’ ”

• “We recently successfully made an offer in compromise for one of the most deserving clients I have ever met. He has never made much money and is well below the poverty level now.

He owed $10k and it has been the monkey on his back for years. We were able to compromise his debt (based on his inability to pay) for $300. He was the most gracious and grateful man, and wanted to pay his tax bill in full but just could not do it.”

The clinic is located in the Water Center at 322 E. Front St., Suite 590, Boise.

Walk-ins are welcome. Potential clients can also call ahead at 364-6166.

Potential clients will need to provide income documentation to make sure they’re eligible for free services.

Clients will need to provide all of the correspondence they have had with the IRS or the tax court.

LEGACY CORPS CALLS FOR VOLUNTEERS

Legacy Corps is a national service project that provides caregiver relief to veterans and military families.

The Idaho chapter, overseen by the local nonprofit Friends in Action, has been around for about a year. It’s been so successful that it’s expanding its volunteer corps from nine to 20 volunteers.

Legacy Corps volunteers commit to one year of service. They give 10 to 12 hours of caregiver respite each week to qualifying families.

Volunteers receive 90 hours of high-quality training over the course of the year and participate in evaluations.

Each Legacy Corps volunteer receives a stipend of $167 per month and is eligible for an education award of close to $1,500 (upon completion of their service year). Volunteers over the age of 55 have the option of giving their education award to a child or grandchild.

The next service year begins Nov. 1, 2013, and ends Oct. 31, 2014. For more information, visit fiaboise.org/legacy-corps.

Friends in Action is a local nonprofit dedicated to providing support to family caregivers in the Treasure Valley and is located at 1607 W. Jefferson St. in Boise.

Questions? Kelle Sweeney: 333-1363.

‘ZERO LANDFILL’ EVENT KEEPS COOL STUFF OUT OF THE TRASH

The International Interior Design Association. hosts this event, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 12, at the Office Pavillion Warehouse, 11613 W. Executive Drive in Boise.

Here’s how it works: Zero Landfill volunteers collect materials donated from local architecture and design firms and other businesses. They organize and weigh the materials, then offer them to the public for free.

The target audience includes teachers, artists, crafters and others who can use the donated materials in their work. Typical items include fabric, carpet, brick, til, stone, wood, glass, specialty paper and more.

Last year, the second year the IIDA of Boise has participated in Zero Landfill, the event diverted more than 6,300 pounds of materials from the landfill.

Note: Those who step up as volunteers to help out with the project get first dibs on items at a special “pre-sale.”

Questions? Mandy at mboam@hummelarch.com.

HIT THE GROUND WITH THE HEMOPHILIA WALK

The National Hemophilia Foundation Idaho Chapter invites the Treasure Valley community members to sign up for its annual Hemophilia Walk and Family Fall Festival, 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, in Ann Morrison Park.

Registration is free, donations are encouraged. All participants will receive a complimentary T-shirt. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.

Look for the tents set up near the Old Timer shelter next to the Greenbelt. Special things in the mix: bagels offered courtesy of Blue Sky Bagels, a walk warm-up led by Zumba instructor Petra Yoder at 9:45 a.m., and post-walk festivities, including a free Family Fall Festival with carnival style games, prizes, and an inflatable obstacle course for the young folks. Magic Man Brad Hatcher will amaze the audience with a 45-minute magic show at noon. Prizes will be awarded for the biggest fundraiser, first team to cross the finish line and best Bronco gear.

All of the free fun leaves more dollars to donate!

Get information, register or donate online.

QUICK TAKES:

• Capstone Missions Fall Fiesta: The organization hosts its sixth annual Fall Fiesta, 6 p.m., Oct. 12, St. Mark’s Catholic Church, 7960 Northview St., Boise. $25/$40 per couple.

Proceeds support the nonprofit’s work to provide housing, schooling and medical care for children with special needs at St. Joseph’s Home in Tijuana, Mexico.

To buy dinner and raffle tickets, make a donation, or donate an auction item, contact Molly Bullock at 863-8786.

• Parenting class: “Learning Styles and your Child,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, Boise Public Library, 715 S. Capitol Blvd. Free. Educational therapist Emily Boles heads this workshop on multisensory learning (visual, auditory and kinesthetic) and Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. 384-4200.

• Brown Bag Lecture, “Wanderings in 1870s Warren’s camp and the Salmon River country,” noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, in the Central Auditorium, Washington Group Plaza, 720 Park Blvd., Boise. Free.

• Howl-O-Ween Black Dog Walk and Costume Contest, noon Sunday, Oct. 13. Meet at the grassy area in front of the east parking lot of the Ram, 709 E. Park Blvd., Boise. The walk helps raise awareness of the plight of black dogs in shelters. It will include a range of festivities, including free pet food samples, a myriad of prize categories and more.

Anna Webb: 377-6431

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