Thousands of immigrants seek asylum in Charlotte court. Nearly all will lose.

Charlotte N.C.- “Stand up and raise your right hand,” Judge William Riggs said.

He looks expectantly at a Central American man in front of him, who’s wearing headphones to listen to the Spanish interpreter to the left of Riggs. Before she finishes translating, Riggs raises his own right hand to demonstrate the action.

After the man takes an oath, a baby, in the wooden benches designated for observers, starts whining. The mother bounces her knees up and down, attempting to soothe the child.

The immigrant’s lawyer explains his claim, and at one point, Riggs rests his chin in his hand.

It’s about 9 a.m., and this is the first of dozens of asylum cases he’ll hear that day. Once the lawyers finish, he either assigns a later individual hearing or orders the respondent removed from the country.

All of this takes place in Charlotte’s immigration court, located in a mundane office building in east Charlotte. There isn’t a sign outside to identify it, and once inside, you have to take a rickety elevator to the fourth floor — just three floors above an immigration law firm.

That’s where anyone in the Carolinas has to go to claim asylum, and its four judges are some of the strictest in the country.


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Ofrecen protección al contribuyente

Charlotte N.C.- El Servicio y Defensa al Contribuyente en colaboración con el Centro de Apoyo Legal de Charlotte llevarán a cabo el lunes 15 de julio un taller informativo sobre la resolución de problemas de impuestos.

El taller que será impartido en español, está dirigido a contribuyentes que tiene algún caso existente con el Servicio de Rentas Internas, IRS, ya sea de colección o acuerdo de pagos, auditorias, apelaciones, robo de identidad, que necesiten representación en la corte de impuestos o tengan preguntas sobre su devolución de impuestos, de individuales o negocios.

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Advocacy Center Assisting Tax Fraud Victims in Local Case

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is assisting victims in a local tax fraud case after a federal grand jury recently indicted a Charlotte woman on charges of preparing false returns and obstructing a criminal investigation.

Andrivia Wells, also known as Tina Smith, Tina Harris, Andrivia Smith and Andrivia Harris, of Rush Tax Service has been indicted on charges of aiding and assisting in the preparation of fraudulent tax returns for her clients and obstructing the criminal investigation by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by destroying records.

The indictment alleges that through Rush Tax Service, Wells prepared, or caused to be prepared, more than 6,000 fraudulent tax returns and Rush Tax Services received more than $1.2 million in fees from her clients between 2013 and 2017.

According to allegations, Wells prepared income tax returns that claimed false filing statuses, false American Opportunity and education credits, false Schedule C businesses, and false fuel tax credits, in order to inflate refunds paid by the IRS.

The indictment further alleges that tax preparation fees were taken directly from the clients’ tax refunds, and in many cases the clients were unaware of how much they were being charged, which was frequently more than $500.

When tax filing fraud occurs, taxpayers are often unaware of a preparer’s actions until the IRS notifies them of a discrepancy in their tax returns.

“Getting a letter from the IRS is especially frightening and confusing for a victim of tax fraud,” said Arthur Bartlett, director and attorney for the Advocacy Center’s North Carolina Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic. “That’s why we’re helping those impacted by this case understand their rights and advocating on their behalf before the IRS.”

According to the IRS, more than half of U.S. taxpayers used a paid tax preparer in the 2016 tax year. The IRS urges taxpayers to be selective when choosing a tax preparer because even if a preparer commits fraud, the taxpayer is ultimately responsible for the accuracy of information on the tax return.

Contact the Advocacy Center by calling 704-376-1600 (Mecklenburg County residents), 800-438-1254 (residents outside Mecklenburg County) if you had your tax returns prepared by Rush Tax Services and you believe that your tax returns were not prepared correctly.

The Advocacy Center’s Tax Clinic may be able to assist you in correcting any errors that were made during the preparation of your tax returns and dealing with any liabilities that result.

The Tax Clinic provides low-income taxpayers with representation in federal and state tax controversies and educates individuals about their rights and responsibilities as U.S. taxpayers.

Resources:
IRS Helpful Hints When Choosing A Tax Preparer
VIDEO: IRS 2019 Dirty Dozen List of Tax Scams
VIDEO: IRS Docena Sucia de 2019

Some Immigrants Choose Between Food Stamps and a Green Card


Lourdes Juarez has lived in North Carolina since 2000, working part-time to help children with disabilities improve their motor skills. Originally from Mexico, she is now a lawful permanent resident of the United States with plans to apply for citizenship.

After bouts of pancreatic and liver cancer left her struggling with medical debt, she learned that she qualified for Medicaid, the government health program for low-income people. But she had a nagging concern that accepting government benefits would affect her chances of gaining citizenship. She had heard rumors to that effect among her friends and in the news.

Juarez’s fear reflects the growing sense among immigrants that they should avoid public programs, which also include food stamps and certain housing programs, in case they count against their ability to stay in the country permanently. In December, Juarez called the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, which reassured her that her citizenship would not be affected if she enrolled in Medicaid. Only then did Jaurez relax and sign up.

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