ABOVE PHOTO: Angela Dean
By Arlene Edmonds
Attorney Angela Dean believes that the average African-American dealing with IRS issues deserve to get affordable representation. Dean — a Villanova Law School graduate with a master’s in law taxation — understands that even some who are living from paycheck to paycheck or have stagnating wages may have a tax dilemma. They may not earn enough to be able to hire a pricey lawyer, and they may make a little too much to qualify for free legal assistance.
During Women’s History Month, the Philadelphia SUN is beginning its series featuring local attorneys who are making their mark in unique ways. This is certainly the case with Dean, who started her practice to help those who have made mistakes on Internal Revenue Service returns, failed to file necessary forms, or need to help with an elder who wants to stay in their home rather than selling off their assets to go into a convalescent institution. This is so even if one wants to know one’s right in case one wants to represent themselves in the courts or fill out legal documents.
First, Dean is now helping individuals and nonprofits with tax issues at sliding and affordable rates. The West Oak Lane native, who now resides in Elkins Park was formerly was a bankruptcy lawyer and worked as an employee benefits attorney. Unlike Community Legal Services or other legal aid agencies, her practice has no maximum income guidelines. She charges on a sliding scale or flexible payment plans adjusted to a client’s income and the particulars of the case.
“I am willing to work with clients at an affordable rate,” Dean said. “Of course, I work for a living, so I cannot work for free. I do need to be paid for my services. What I am offering to those who come to me are professional services at lower rates.
I have always represented the underdog. I really want to help people navigate the system. I am good at what I do and am willing to do this for those who need it for a lower cost than many other legal representatives.”
To this end, she has joined forces with Amorette Hinds of Innovative Capital Management. She brings to the table the financial accounting information. The two are also looking for other tax accountants to join them.
“Sometimes dealing with the IRS can be complex, but we can help people at all income levels to navigate the process from the beginning to appeals,” Dean said.
This is not the first legal venture that Dean has done to help individuals or organizations in need. She used to host the legal show, “Let’s Talk about It.” The show aired on the new Victory 1460 AM on Saturday afternoons. At that time, she answered questions from nonprofits and community organizations as well as churches about their tax-exempt status. Often, she would get questions about whether a nonprofit or religious group could engage in political rhetoric, forums or even support political candidates.
“Many churches and nonprofits think they are prohibited from having candidates speak at their church,” Dean said. “There are guidelines but as long as you invite all the candidates you can. You should keep a ledger to show that you invited all the candidates and which ones showed up if you are asked by the IRS.
Churches and nonprofits are allowed to do voter education. You just have to be careful not to endorse any particular candidate. You can have cards that compare all the candidates and have checklists of where they stand on issues that are important to a particular church. That way the church members can know where the candidates stand on issues that matter to them.”
With many churches changing pastors, employing interim ministers, and even closing their doors, there are also IRS issues that churches must contend with. Dean said that used to offer advice on matters like if a former pastor has been drawing a salary or paying a staff but neglected to pay employee taxes to the government on time.
Currently, Dean has chosen not to focus on that type of law because of the number of individuals and small business owners who are facing IRS issues. Currently, the IRS is undergoing changes. There are always new changes in the code.
Dean said she is abreast of the latest changes in the IRS code as well as what the code was when customers initially filed forms. Consequently, she insisted that she is up to new challenges average citizens may have.
When Dean is not working with legal clients, one can find her working hard at her second love, creative writing. One can find her busily working on a novel or screenplay. But, her first priority is her son, Johari.
“My greatest joy in life is being a mother,” Dean said. “I really love everything about seeing my son grow to be a mature, bright and mannerly young man. He is still in high school, so he is my priority right now. I am just blessed to have a career I love and do some of the things I’ve always enjoyed doing, like writing, and being a mother.”
Attorney Angela Dean can be reached at 866-535-0007 or [email protected]