Legal Aid Service of Collier County

When we hear about legal issues, we often times wonder who we should call for help. Legal Aid Service of Collier County is one of those resources that’s available.

Katherine Riano, staff attorney with Legal Aid Service of Collier County, wants to help clear up some of the confusion and misconception about the services her office provides.

Katherine says that while their office helps with domestic violence cases and cases involving child abuse and neglect, Veterans and elderly benefits, immigration assistance, foreclosure defense, and income tax disputes and collections, her office does not provide support for criminal cases, child support cases, personal injuries, traffic citations or DUI’s, automobile accidents, or even medical malpractice cases.

As we start gearing up for personal income tax season, the most important thing to keep in mind is that everyone who works must file a personal income tax return as it’s an obligation not a choice. One of the most common misconceptions Katherine said is that undocumented individuals should not file their tax return as it would bring attention to their illegal presence in the country.

This couldn’t be further from the truth she says. The Internal Revenue Services (IRS) is not an immigration service. In fact, the IRS has developed what’s known as ITIN numbers to help those here illegally file and pay taxes. Legal Aid Service of Collier County is able to work with those who are here illegally and obtain an ITIN number so that they may file and pay their fair share of taxes without using a Social Security Number that’s invalid or one that belongs to someone else.

In many cases, the office is also able to help with IRS collections if false or incorrect tax filings occurred previously or even if the filer has been the victim of identity theft.

While Legal Aid Service of Collier County operates out of an office in Naples, they also maintain an office in Immokalee at the Florida Community Bank building located at 1400 N. 15th Street, Suite 201. Katherine welcomes visitors on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am until 5pm. However, she will be splitting her time in Immokalee between the office at the Florida Community Bank building and at the RCMA campus.

She asks that anyone in need of assistance please contact her office first at 239-775-4555 to set up an appointment. The representative who answers the phone will gather some basic information to help ensure that Legal Aid Service of Collier County is the right resource to provide the help that’s needed. If not, their office will provide callers with the most appropriate referrals.

Legal Aid Service of Collier County is able to provide services in English, Spanish, and Creole.

Travis can be reached at ibnews@newszap.com

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