In Uncategorized on 08/20/2019 at 16:11

The Low Income Tax Clinics do laudable work. Primacy of place must go to the law schools, whose pro bono beneficence I’ve often commended before now. The Texas Technophobes, the Harvard Fierce Fighters, the Golden Gophers, The Fordham Flashes, and Sandy Freund’s Jersey Lightning, are just a sampling.

Unhappily, some of the VITAs, and today the AARP, fall somewhat short.

Maria M. Faust, 2019 T. C. Memo. 105, filed 8/20/19, evokes pity from Judge Elizabeth A. Copeland, as Maria needed a Spanish-language interpreter on the trial, was found by the US Navy’s Family Advocacy Program Case Review Committee to be abused by her husband, never finished secondary school, and was confronted by a series of  family court orders that baffled even IRS’ counsel. There was a preliminary order and a final order, when Maria unhitched from abusive spouse, and Maria got money.

Of course, what cash Maria got was alimony, and taxable to her. VA law, where she lived, says all such court-ordered payments end with death, unless expressly otherwise stated, so Section 71(b)(1)(D), the rock upon which so many alimony claims foundered, was avoided. And nowhere was it stated in any document that payments were not income to Maria.

Maria got tax advice from AARP’s local MD tax clinic. “…we note that petitioner obtained what low-income-taxpayer professional assistance she could in preparing her tax return.” 2019 T. C. Memo. 105, at p. 20. So Maria is excused the Section 6662 chops.

We’ve seen that non-law school VITAs have problems with things like self-employment tax for workers with foreign governments (see my blogpost “That’s The Way To Do It,” 10/2/12). Here’s another example. Maybe AARP (to which organization I belong) should partner with the law school clinics.

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