Changing Lives One Tax Return at a Time

April6, 2024 | Josae Martin

Pro Bono Spotlight Jane Callahan

Instead of receiving their expected tax refund this season, many individuals were surprised to find that they owed additional money to the IRS. One of the most common reasons for owing taxes this year was under-withholding, which means you need to take more taxes out of your paycheck. Another reason was the Advanced Premium Tax Credit provided to individuals who purchased health insurance through the Marketplace. While it may seem convenient to have a higher paycheck or a cash advance at that moment, it ultimately costs. These issues have created new financial hardship for many Orange County residents who are already struggling financially. For the reasons mentioned above, the Legal Aid Society of the OCBA, in coordination with VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), administers a FREE tax clinic to assist low-income individuals with their taxes. Attorney Jane Callahan, who has volunteered with the Legal Aid Society for over 20 years through this program, has made it her mission to help these individuals with quality service, providing them with much-needed relief.

“I think it’s important for all of our attorneys to give back in this way,” said Jane when asked about her long-term pro bono service. Despite having to re-test every year, a requirement demanded by VITA for tax-assistance efficiency, this attorney has yet to be deterred from serving Orange County residents in such a remarkable way. Most of the clients she receives have highly complex tax issues that only she may be able to assist with because of her expert knowledge working as an attorney practicing in this area of law. Jane is a Dean Mead law firm tax attorney and a member of the American Bar Association, Tax Section, and the Florida Bar, Tax Section. She is recognized for her meticulous tax preparation style, which has helped countless individuals resolve tax issues satisfactorily and quickly.

While discussing her volunteer work, Jane shared a story about a client who left a profound impact on her. The client was a young woman with three children who had escaped from an abusive husband and was living in a shelter. Jane assisted her in resolving a tax issue and successfully helped her get back a refund of $3,500. “This may not seem like a lot of money for some people, but it meant so much to her because she could now leave the homeless shelter and get a safer place for her and her children to live,” said Jane. She described how moving it was to see the young woman’s happiness, knowing she helped change her life for the better, a testament to the transformative power of pro bono work.

It is an honor to have attorneys such as Jane Callahan volunteering as pro bono attorneys with the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association. Although these services are free, we provide our clients with adequate representation and quality service daily. Thank you, Jane, for going above and beyond to help those in need. For more information about volunteering with our organization, please visit www.legalaidOCBA.org.