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LITC Helps Homeless Clients

June 03, 2020

The Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) at Lewis & Clark Law School has collaborated with Street Roots, a local nonprofit, to prepare tax returns for homeless individuals so they can receive their stimulus checks.

The Commissioner of the IRS recently relaxed the rules around tax preparation to allow LITCs to provide assistance to people eligible to receive the stimulus check. Law student volunteers Diego Gutierrez ’21 and Jordan Hartman ’22 are being trained by Sarah Lora, Director of LITC, to use the tax prep software and prepare the returns for homeless individuals. “With the law students, we are preparing $1 returns for the homeless via Zoom,” stated Lora. “I then check them over and efile them.”

In most instances, stimulus checks are sent to Street Roots for delivery to the homeless individuals. Street Roots, through its banking connections, facilitates individuals in getting their checks cashed.

The collaboration between LITC and Street Roots arose when Street Roots requested information about what the clinic is doing to assist people during the pandemic. Alex Rodriguez, who is leading the stimulus check project at Street Roots, has been working with the homeless through the IRS non-filer portal but was running into obstacles because the portal requires an email and a phone, items that few homeless have access to. “Luckily, my tax prep software does not require an email or phone number, so it was a perfect match,” stated Lora.

So far the clinic has completed over 100 returns thereby potentially providing over $120,000 directly into the hands of the homeless. “Working with Street Roots customers has been a truly rewarding experience,” Lora said.

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