We help eligible low-income people and senior citizens
with civil legal problems.

Need more information about Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma?
Visit our website at
http://www.legalaidok.org/

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Courthouse Closings - How can they affect your court case?

Oklahoma Courthouses rarely close, but in a natural disaster (heavy ice, snow or tornado) or some other extreme situation, the courthouse may be closed on the day you have a court hearing.   Courthouses are typically open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday and are closed for legal holidays.  Some courthouses open later and some close earlier.

If there is a storm or disaster, notice of closings may be heard on the radio or television.  You can always call the county courthouse or your lawyer to double-check to see if the courthouse is open.  If you have a lawyer, he or she may let you know that the courthouse has been closed because of an emergency of some type or because of bad weather. 

Whether you have a criminal or civil case, if you have a court case on the docket, you need to be there.  If you have a problem, always get to a phone and call the courthouse.   Ask for the judge's clerk and let them know you will be late.  If there is any way humanly possible, get to the courthouse early to avoid any problems!  If the situation is important enough to be in court, it is important enough for you do to EVERYTHING possible to be early and be prepared for court. If you are suing someone or are being sued, there maybe certain days by which you have to respond by filing court papers telling your side of the story.
If a court hearing has been scheduled and you are late or miss the docket when the judge calls your name, you might be held in contempt of court.  This may be a civil citation or a bench warrant might be issued against you.  A citation or warrant will cause you problems, cost you money and may even cause you to go to jail.

The Oklahoma Statutes govern how long you have to file motions or responses.  They also tell about setting court hearing dates and changing dates, if there is a problem.

The Oklahoma Statutes are found at:  http://www.oklaw.org/link.cfm?3272

Some counties have local court rules that tell you how long you have to file motions or responses, too.
Not all of the Local Court Rules are available online but here is a link to those that are available as of February 2011:
http://www.oklaw.org/link.cfm?3270 

More information at http://www.oklaw.org/


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Help for Families through the Earned Income Tax Credit

The IRS estimates that as many as 25 percent of eligible taxpayers do not claim and may not be aware of the Earned Income Tax Credit.
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable federal income tax credit for low- to moderate-income working individuals and families that Congress designed to encourage work as well as offset payroll and income taxes.

When the EITC is more than your income tax liability, the Internal Revenue Service will refund the balance.  To qualify, you must meet certain requirements and file a tax return, even if you did not earn enough money to be obligated to file a return.

The earned income tax credit (EITC) is for families making less than $48,362 in 2010 (for a married couple, filing jointly, with 3 children). 
The amounts vary with your situation so be sure to check this EITC page:  http://www.oklaw.org/link.cfm?3247

Those who qualify for the EITC can include many groups, such as individuals, married couples, those with disabilities, farmers, and grandparents raising grandchildren.

If you qualify for the earned income tax credit, you may also qualify for help in preparing and filing your taxes.  The IRS and the Oklahoma Tax Commission offer a free electronic filing system called FreeFile for those had an Adjusted Gross Income in 2010 of less than $58,000.
This important service helps families get their taxes done easily and accurately, and ensures they can claim tax credits to which they are entitled.


OKLaw has more information on filing your taxes at this link:
http://www.oklaw.org/link.cfm?3248
OKLaw has more information about the EITC at this link:

From the IRS, top 5 changes for 2010: 
http://www.oklaw.org/link.cfm?3250 
IRS FreeFile Information:  http://www.oklaw.org/link.cfm?2943

Oklahoma FreeFile Information:   http://www.oklaw.org/link.cfm?2944