When the 603 Legal Aid staff returned to work after the Thanksgiving holiday, they did so without Low-Income Taxpayer Project (LITP) staff attorney, Barbara Heggie. Barbara is opening a new chapter in life, literally and figuratively: travelling the country in an RV with her two cats, starting a travel blog of her adventures, and writing a novel.
We all wish Barbara well on her journey, although it is impossible to overstate how much she will be missed by the legal aid community.
“We were incredibly fortunate to have a zealous tax advocate with a dogmatic approach to increasing disposable income for our clients,” said Sonya Bellafant, Executive Director for 603 Legal Aid. “Inflation and rising cost for food and utilities have added to the strain that our clients experience everyday as they work to maintain basic necessities of daily living. Barbara helped to ensure that they also received stimulus payments, and tax credits for years. Barbara’s skills and consummate professionalism also ensured that our Low-Income Tax Clinic is well positioned to continue this incredible work moving forward!”
“Barbara has done so much good for our client community here in New Hampshire,” said Sarah Mattson Dustin, Executive Director of New Hampshire Legal Assistance. “We will miss her expertise, professionalism, and partnership.”
Prior to her tax clinic work, Barbara practiced family-based immigration law, taught appellate advocacy at the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law, and clerked for Justice William R. Johnson on the New Hampshire Supreme Court. Barbara also earned certification as a family mediator and served as a contract brief writer for the New Hampshire Department of Justice and a number of private attorneys. She worked as the volunteer attorney coordinator at the Legal Advice & Referral Center prior to taking the position of supervising attorney at the Low-Income Taxpayer Project. Barbara joined 603 Legal Aid following the merger of the Legal Advice and Referral Center and the NH Bar Association Pro Bono Referral Program in 2021.
“Getting a letter from the IRS saying that you owe extra taxes is awful. And making matters worse, tax problems are not often easy for an everyday person to solve,” Barbara said.
“The IRS is so understaffed and so overwhelmed with work,” she explained. “Even small problems take a long time to fix. Meanwhile, people are being hit with substantial penalties that can affect their quality of life for years to come.”
The LITP is a free tax clinic designed to help low-income taxpayers with federal tax problems, including refund delays, stimulus payments, tax credits, and audits. The Project does not generally provide tax return preparation, but can do so if needed to fix a federal tax problem.
To take over the Low-Income Taxpayer Project, 603 Legal Aid has hired Adrianna Siniawski, a veteran of a Florida low-income taxpayer clinic. She’s a native of Lynn, MA, but comes most recently from California, where she worked on victim restitution claims in a district attorney’s office.
“I’m excited to join 603 Legal Aid as the LITP Project Coordinator,” Adrianna said. “I look forward to working with a robust pro bono panel, and I am eager to nurture the community relationships that Barbara Heggie fostered.”
In passing her role to Adrianna, Barbara knows the LITP will be in capable hands.
“I think Adrianna will do great,” she said. She has all the essential ingredients. She’s passionate about legal services, she’s wicked smart, AND she’s got experience. She has all the professionalism you could want, too, served up with commitment and compassion. I’m grateful to know that New Hampshire’s neediest people will have the benefit of her skills.”