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Lauro and Lupe came to the United States from Ecuador hoping to improve their family’s lives. They sent their sons to the local public schools in Sunset Park, Brooklyn and taught them the value of a good education. They are modest, family people and quietly self-sustaining. When they started receiving letters from the IRS in 2019, they fretted at the overwhelming amount they were asked to pay in tax debt.
By 2020, Lupe’s recurring migraines had turned into debilitating headaches. She underwent surgery that strained the family’s spirits and finances. The couple depended on their double income for their basic needs and from time to time to treat their sons. Without Lupe working, Lauro had to pick up extra shifts at his job and the children had to forgo family trips for burgers and fries. Increasingly sleepless nights worrying about their tax issue made them question their choices. A better future for their sons seemed less achievable with each new letter from the IRS that they could not understand.
Lauro recalled asking himself how he would face having to tell his children that they had to ration food. They were aware of their parents’ dilemma and so was their school teacher who called one day to ask if everything at home was alright. This is when Lauro knew that he needed to reach out to someone for help.
Through a referral from a local neighborhood nonprofit, Lauro learned about Brooklyn A’s Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC). The LITC team, which is part of Brooklyn A’s Consumer and Economic Advocacy Program, works with low-income households to resolve tax controversies with the IRS and New York State that uniquely and dramatically impact taxpayers with limited resources. Among those LITC works with are people without housing, taxpayers lacking banking services or identification documents, and domestic violence survivors.
After reviewing the couple’s case, navigating through the system, and submitting a renewed debt appeal, LITC was able to decrease the $30,000 debt to $1. It took knowledge of the tax system, familiarity with its complexities, and hours of calls and document work, not to mention the resourcefulness of our clients.
We are inspired by what Lauro and Lupe did to make it happen when the odds were stacked against them. We think about them and the many dozens of other vulnerable clients that are making it work amid hurdles in securing their federal stimulus checks.
We featured Lauro and Lupe’s story in our 2020 Impact Report. Read it and our other clients’ stories here.
If you or someone you know would like to request the assistance of our services, contact us at [email protected] or (718) 487-2300. For a list of our legal services for taxpayers, homeowners, renters, small businesses, and nonprofits, visit www.bit.ly/bkakit.
The Brooklyn A team