Free Tool for Ukrainian Refugees
SixFifty, a legal compliance company, has launched a free tool for Ukrainians in the United States to extend their stays by filing for Temporary Protected Status or Asylum.
The tool is available at https://www.sixfifty.com/probono/ukraine/.
The tool asks each preparer a set of questions, then plugs the answers into the appropriate application form.
When the form is complete, the tool emails a copy to the preparer, along with instructions on how to submit the application. At that point, the preparer needs only to sign, make copies of the application, and mail it to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services with the application fee.
SixFifty will publish a new asylum tool in the near future. Anyone can use the free tools.
Lawyers looking to donate their time through this and other pro bono initiatives should consider volunteering to answer questions for Wisconsin Free Legal Answers, at https://wi.freelegalanswers.org.
Did You Know?
Tax software companies raked in nearly $1 billion in profits last year from customers who were entitled to file their taxes for free, according to an audit conducted by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Inspector General for Tax Administration.
Most Americans with income of $73,000 or less are entitled to file their taxes under the terms of an agreement between H&R Block and other tax software companies and the IRS. But only 2.4% of people eligible to file their taxes for free did so.
According to the audit, one of the reasons for the low usage is the poor design and the complexity of Free File, an IRS software program. Another is shoddy oversight by the IRS.
“IRS management seems unaware of the complexity and confusion taxpayers face,” the audit reads.
Some of that confusion is apparently by design.
Pro Publica found that taxpayers frustrated with using Free File have to search long and hard to find the free versions of software made available by the tax software companies. For instance, Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, added code to its website that hides the Turbo Tax Free File from Google search results.
Source: Pro Publica
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By the Numbers
43 & 105
– The 2022 rankings of the U.W. Law School and Marquette University Law School respectively, out of 198 law schools, according to U.S. News & World Report.
In the 2021 rankings, the U.W. Law School was 29 and Marquette University Law School was 102.
Changes to the ranking methodology are one reason for the changes, according to some law school deans.
In a statement on its website, the U.W. Law School said that a change in the methodology to discount diploma privilege, which allows graduates of the state’s two law schools to be admitted to the Wisconsin bar shortly after graduation, appeared to play a role in the school’s overall ranking.
Source: ABA Journal
“We’ve Made It”
The U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as a U.S. Supreme Court justice on April 8.
Jackson, who currently sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, will be the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court. She will take her seat on the Court when Justice Stephen Breyer retires this summer.
The U.S. Senate confirmed Jackson by a vote of 53-47 after advancing through a deadlocked Judiciary Committee (the majority party, Democrats, broke the tie).
In remarks given on the White House lawn after she was confirmed, Jackson thanked her family, friends, and supporters.
“It has taken 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a Black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States,” Jackson said. “But we’ve made it.”
Sun Up, Sun Down
On March 15, the U.S. Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act, a bill that would make daylight saving time (DST) permanent beginning in 2023.
If it becomes law, the bill would put an end to the biannual ritual of losing an hour in the spring and gaining one in the fall. Supporters claim that the change would mean longer afternoons for children to play outside and less seasonal depression.
Opponents, including the National Association of Convenience Stores, complain that the proposed law would consign children to traipsing to school in the dark.
DST was imposed as a matter of law in Wisconsin after voters approved a referendum in 1957.
Passage of the referendum capped a 40-year tug of war over DST in the Badger State.
Farmers chafed under the imposition of DST by the federal government during World War I. They complained that springing ahead one hour each spring disrupted milking and field work schedules.
In 1923, the state legislature passed a law making anything other than central standard time illegal in Wisconsin, after the city of Milwaukee implemented DST (then referred to as “fast time”).
When Congress reinstated DST during World War II, state legislators attempted to move Wisconsin into the Mountain Time zone.
A 1947 referendum imposing DST went down by a margin of 55%-45%, although voters in Milwaukee County supported it nearly 2 to 1.
Business owners were the main force behind the 1957 referendum, which voters approved by a 55%-45% margin.
Source: Reuters, Ballotpedia, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
On the Radar
Union Notches Historic Win
For the first time in the 30-year history of Amazon, U.S. workers at the company won a union election.
It came on April 1, when workers at a warehouse in Staten Island, N.Y., voted 2,654 to 2,131 to form a union.
The vote took place one day after the Retail, Wholesale and Development Union (RWDU) lost an election at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., by a vote of 993-875.
It was the second election at the Bessemer facility in five months. RWDU lost an election there in November 2021 but the National Labor Relations Board ordered a second election after ruling that Amazon, the nation’s second-largest employer, improperly interfered in the first election.
Union organizers are challenging 416 ballots in the March 31 election in Bessemer, enough to reverse the result.
Chris Small, fired by Amazon in 2020 after leading a walkout over COVID-19 conditions at the Staten Island facility, led the workers’ campaign in New York.
Source: Associated Press, Reuters