Volunteer of the Month (November 2010): Irwin Slomka of Morrison & Foerster LLP

  • 12/1/2010
  • Lawyers Alliance for New York
  • Source: New York > Community Development / Nonprofit

Date: November 30, 2010
Names of Attorney: Irwin Slomka
Name of Firm: Morrison & Foerster LLP
Client Served: Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton-Manhattan Beach (Shorefront Y)

Accomplishment: Secured the successful outcome of a New York State Tax Audit on behalf of Shorefront Y.

Specific Case Highlights: Established in the early 1950s, Shorefront Y has been at the heart of change and immigration in multicultural South Brooklyn. A vibrant Jewish community center and social service agency, Shorefront Y has grown with its population, integrating immigrants into American society, inspiring families and individuals to reconnect to their Jewish roots and providing an array of programs to meet the needs and interests of diverse constituencies.

In September 2009 Shorefront Y came to Lawyers Alliance when it needed legal assistance in response to erroneous allegations of under-withheld tax made by a New York State Department of Taxation and Finance auditor. These allegations had resulted in a burdensome and costly document request, and at one point, the auditor even made a claim that Shorefront Y may not be a bona fide not-for-profit organization.

Although Shorefront Y had cooperated with all requests to inspect records, the auditor refused an invitation to inspect financial records at Shorefront Y’s premises when the requests to provide and photocopy documents began to get cost prohibitive for the organization. Mr. Slomka confirmed that the requests were unreasonable and questioned the validity of the claims. He helped protect Shorefront Y’s interests by making numerous calls to the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance as well as a more senior manager in the Brooklyn office. He participated in multiple calls with Shorefront Y’s Executive Director and its internal auditor / accountant to develop strategy and review documentation, including communications sent by the auditor and original documentation submitted by Shorefront Y to substantiate the organization’s claims of auditor inaccuracy. He participated in a face-to-face meeting at the Brooklyn office of the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance and even offered to travel to Albany to resolve matters in person.

Thanks to Mr. Slomka’s relentless and thorough diligence, Shorefront Y finally received a letter from the auditor that New York State Department of Taxation and Finance accepted the returns as filed, and the multiple audits that had been opened by the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance were finally closed with nothing owed. As a result, Shorefront Y can continue to fund its operations without threat of a costly tax penalty. As the client reports, “Irwin Slomka was amazing throughout his work with us. He really was our champion. Without Irwin and Lawyers Alliance, we would never have been able to reach this outcome.”

About Lawyers Alliance for New York: Lawyers Alliance for New York is the leading provider of business and transactional legal services for nonprofit organizations that are improving the quality of life in New York City neighborhoods. Our network of pro bono lawyers from law firms and corporations and staff of experienced attorneys work together, delivering expert corporate, tax, real estate, employment, and other legal services to community organizations. By connecting lawyers, nonprofits, and communities, we help nonprofits to develop affordable housing, stimulate economic development, and operate vital programs for children and young people, the elderly, recent immigrants, and other low-income New Yorkers. Each year, the 14 staff attorneys at Lawyers Alliance and 1400 volunteers serve more than 550 clients.

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  • Nonprofit/Community Development