Next Month’s Fair Housing Summit
April 29th marks the date for the statewide Florida Fair Housing Summit. The event will take place from 8:00am to 5:00pm at the Rosen Center Hotel located at 9840 International Drive in Orlando. This is the third year for the Summit, co-hosted by Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida. The Summit brings together civil rights, government and nonprofit agencies for a day long exchange of workshops and lectures from innovative keynote speakers. This year’s speakers are Matthew Dietz, civil rights Litigation Director of Disability Independence Group in Miami, and Colleen Starkloff, co-founder of the Starkloff Disability Institute in St. Louis Missouri.
Please register to contribute to the conversation and dialogue on the most salient issues in how to affirmatively further fair housing and create accessible homes and inclusive communities.
Tax Season is Here!
Although April 15th is rapidly approaching, it’s not too late to explore whether you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit or “EITC.” The EITC is a refundable federal income tax credit for low to moderate-income working individuals and families. Congress originally approved the tax credit legislation in 1975 in part to offset the burden of social security taxes and to provide an incentive to work. When EITC exceeds the amount of taxes owed, it results in a tax refund to those who claim and qualify for the credit.
CLSMF Service Spotlight: Low Income Taxpayer Clinic Program (LITC)
The IRS’s Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) program assists thousands of low income taxpayers with pro bono representation, education, and advocacy services. CLSMF’s LITC program provides free assistance to low income taxpayers who have a tax dispute with the IRS, such as an audit or collection matter, and conduct education and outreach to taxpayers who speak English as a second language (ESL).
Attorney Caroline Ware heads the LITC program at CLSMF and has produced some amazing results for clients in dispute with the IRS. One such success story is about a generous woman in Central Florida who adopted two special needs children to raise as her own. Despite her good intentions, the IRS refused to recognize her eligibility for an adoption credit. This was no small problem for a single woman raising 2 special needs children. With the help of Caroline, she not only succeeded in having her adoptions properly recognized, but received a $28,000 refund which will go far in helping her raise her children.
LITC programs-like the one at CLSMF-educate, support and give voice to low income taxpayers facing difficulties with the IRS. The results of these programs on a national level have made a major impact in the lives of many residents.
Source: IRS Newswire, March 2014
Successful Hague Convention Case
Sally Burgos, a CLSMF attorney, recently won an international case involving custody rights for an Ecuadorian mother and her U.S. born child. The mother gave birth to her daughter while on a brief visit in the United States, after which the father, mother and child returned to Ecuador (the child was just 2 months old).
When the child turned 4, the father relocated to the U.S. and the parents separated. They entered into an oral agreement for visitation rights in the U.S. during the child’s school vacations. This agreement was respected for the next 6 or 7 years, until the child’s last scheduled visit to the U.S. from February 11 to April 29, 2013, when the father refused to return her.
After months of brief supervised phone calls and limited contact with her daughter, the mother initiated legal action in Ecuador for the international recovery of the 11 year-old. An Ecuadorian judge entered the order for the child’s immediate return, but the father refused to honor the Mediated Settlement Agreement which fell under Ecuadorian law.
The State Department then stepped in and asked CLSMF to assist. Staff Attorney Sally Burgos initiated a petition for the child’s return under the Hague Convention for the expedited enforcement of the Ecuadorian order. At the hearing, the judge ruled in favor of the plaintiff and found that the father had wrongfully retained the child in the U.S. The judge ordered the child to be returned the following day by 5 p.m. The mother and child left Lake County for Ecuador the very next day. Congratulations to Sally Burgos on her success in reuniting mother and child.
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Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida
122 East Colonial Drive
Orlando, Florida 32801
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