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Students Volunteer to Help Immigrant Taxpayers

November 29, 2019

Seven Lewis & Clark Law students helped immigrant taxpayers fill out applications for an ITIN renewal at a recent workshop organized by Professor Sarah Lora, along with El Programa Hispano. The workshop was held at Lewis & Clark’s Low Income Taxpayer Clinic in its downtown Portland office.  

An ITIN is a number used by taxpayers to file tax returns when they lack a valid SSN. ITINs are issued by the IRS. “Undocumented taxpayers, their spouses and dependents need ITINs to comply with their tax filing obligations, not only because it’s the law, but for other purposes such as showing good moral character in immigration proceedings,” explained Professor Lora.  

El Programa Hispano holds free ITIN renewal workshops in Gresham. Having student volunteers and using the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic facilities allowed El Programa to expand the reach of its services into downtown Portland. Students from the Tax Law Society, Immigration Student Group, and the National Lawyers Guild volunteered for the day where they received training on how to fill out the forms in the morning before working with immigrant taxpayers in the afternoon. “Students learned about immigrant taxpayer issues and got the satisfaction of helping immigrants with an important task” stated Professor Lora.

Workshops like this are very important to immigrant taxpayers, who may struggle with navigating the confusing tax filing system. “I started my tax career working with farmworker taxpayers and began to realize the enormous obstacles put before them to simply comply with their tax filing obligations,” Professor Lora said. “Without these workshops, taxpayers are often left to seek services from unscrupulous tax preparers who may charge exorbitant fees. With this workshop, students get experience, work with low-income taxpayers and help the community immensely.”

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