Hispanics Face Significant Barriers in Filing Taxes

August 20, 2012 by  

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WASHINGTON – For those new to the U.S. tax system, filing taxes can be a confusing and intimidating process. For Hispanics, barriers such as language, fraud and misinformation add to the list of complications. To help address Spanish-speaking taxpayers’ needs for trustworthy and credible help, the Hispanic Access Foundationhas expanded its outreach and educational campaign in partnership with H&R Block, the world’s largest tax services provider, to eleven U.S. cities.

The campaign Prepárate Para Un Futuro Mejor” (Prepare Yourself for a Better Future) emphasizes the importance of building an accurate tax history and gives Hispanics tools to protect against fraud and misinformation in the tax preparation process.

“This campaign has already helped thousands of Hispanics with issues such as fears about immigration status, situations of fraud and trusting unskilled tax preparers,” said Maite Arce, executive director of HAF. “The demand for help is so immense there was no hesitation in expanding to more cities. This is a critical need for Hispanics and for the long-term prospects of this country as a whole.”

Hispanic buying power is expected to reach $1.5 trillion in 2015, according to a recent Nielsen report. Additionally, the U.S. Census estimates that Hispanic business-owners contribute more than $70 billion to the nation’s economy. While there is no concrete number, estimates place the number of Hispanics not filing taxes in the millions.

“For the majority of Hispanics, it’s not a question of not wanting to pay taxes, but rather a lack of understanding and fear of the process. With access to quality information in their language and to bilingual tax experts, they can build their knowledge about taxes,” said Arce. “H&R Block and its more than 2,500 bilingual offices nationwide make them an ideal partner to help this population.”

Throughout the campaign, HAF and H&R Block will work with faith-based and community leaders to discuss tax issues, participate in community events and promote informational tax seminars called “Tax Talks.” More information about this campaign and a list of seminars is available at

About H&R Block
H&R Block, Inc. (NYSE: HRB) is the world’s largest tax services provider, having prepared more than 600 million tax returns worldwide since 1955. In fiscal 2012, H&R Block had annual revenues of $2.9 billion and prepared 25.6 million tax returns worldwide. Tax return preparation services are provided in company-owned and franchise retail tax offices by nearly 100,000 professional tax preparers, and through H&R Block At Home™ digital products. H&R Block Bank provides affordable banking products and services. For more information, visit the H&R Block Online Press Center.

DREAMers Happy About DHS Announcement

June 15, 2012 by  

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The Obama administration announced today that it will offer indefinite reprieves from deportation for young immigrants who were brought to the country as minors and meet other specific requirements.

The move, hailed by immigration advocates as a bold response to the broken immigration system, temporarily eliminates the possibility of deportation for youths who would qualify for relief under the DREAM Act, giving Congress the space needed to craft a bipartisan solution that gives permanent residence to qualifying young people.

In a statement from the White House, President Obama said the policy was “the right thing to do,” calling DREAMers “Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every way but one: on paper.”

According to a memorandum from the Department of Homeland Security, immigrants may apply for a two-year renewable grant of “deferred action” if they entered the United States before age 16; are younger than 30; have lived continuously in the United States for at least five years; have not been convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanor; and are currently in school, have graduated from high school or earned a GED, or served in the military. Although not granted lawful immigration status, recipients will be able to obtain work permits under existing regulations.

Today’s memo, issued by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, comes almost exactly one year after the release of a memo from ICE Director John Morton setting forth an extensive list of factors for agents to consider when exercising prosecutorial discretion. The so-called “Morton memo” was initially hailed by immigrant advocates, who believed it would prevent the removal of foreign nationals who would have qualified for relief under the DREAM Act. Calls for bolder executive action grew stronger, however, after an ongoing review of pending removal cases yielded disappointing results and examples continued to surface of immigrants being denied prosecutorial discretion despite compelling circumstances.

Although not defined under federal regulations, deferred action has long been used by U.S. presidents to prevent the removal of immigrants for humanitarian reasons. Contrary to some headlines, immigrants who are granted deferred action—which can be revoked without notice at any time—will not receive “immunity” from removal. In addition, although they will be permitted to apply for work permits, immigrants who receive deferred action will not receive green cards or any other lawful immigration status, will not be permitted to sponsor family members, and may be unable to travel abroad.

According to the memo and a Q&A released by the administration, immigrants who are not currently in removal proceedings will have to submit applications demonstrating their eligibility for deferred action. Meanwhile, immigrants who are currently in removal proceedings will be eligible for deferred action, even if they previously declined an offer of “administrative closure” under the ongoing case review process. Although eligibility determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis, administration officials said that immigrants who satisfy the criteria in the memo should presumptively be granted deferred action.

Secretary Napolitano’s memo comes two weeks after nearly 100 law professors sent a letter to President Obama outlining his authority to provide temporary relief from deportation. The announcement also comes on the thirtieth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Plyler v. Doe, which held that states cannot exclude undocumented schoolchildren from elementary and secondary schools.

New Videos Highlight Tax Education Effort

The Hispanic Access Foundation has released two videos highlighting our “Preparate Para un Futuro Mejor” (Prepare Yourself for a Better Future) Program.

The program responds to a need in the Hispanic Community for access to quality information about taxes.  The community is vulnerable to fraud and committing errors due to misinformation and a low level of understanding of how the tax system works in the United States.

Together with H&R Block, HAF has provided free tax education workshops to 30,000 Hispanics in eight major cities – Chicago, Dallas, District of Columbia, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Rio Grande Valley.

Stay tuned, soon we’ll be sharing more testimonies from community members who have benefited from the program on our website and Youtube channels.

Fernando Arau is the Spokesperson for HAF Campaign

February 21, 2012 by  

Fernando Arau, who is best known among the Spanish–speaking public in the U.S. as having hosted Despierta América on Univision, agreed last week to be the spokesperson for HAF’s campaign “Latinos Advocating for Environment.”

During his first interview on a media tour, which takes him through Colorado and New Mexico, he was asked why he supports this campaign.

“I remember when I was a kid, the best memories I have are of when we went on excursions with my dad and my uncle to the lake, when we went fishing, hiking, mountain climbing,” said Arau.

Arau believes that this is a universal experience shared by Latinos in this country and that it is time that Latinos speak up to protect our parks so that all children will inherit clean air, water, wildlife, and lands to do recreation activities with family.  He signed the HAF petition and is leading his Facebook and twitter fans to do the same.

We are looking for 1,500 signatures by the end of the month.  Add your voice now, and urge others to do the same!

Arizona Sheriff Violates Latinos’ Civil Rights

December 16, 2011 by  

Targeting innocent Latinos for detention and arrest. Stopping Latino drivers without reasonable suspicion. Forcing Spanish-speaking inmates to speak English to make requests. Throwing inmates into solitary confinement for not understanding commands given in English.

Racial profiling.

For these reasons and more, the Justice Department issued a report on Thursday accusing Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his Arizona office of widespread discrimination against Hispanics.

AP Photo

The Justice Department’s 22-page report comes after a three-year investigation of Arpaio’s office. It describes “a pervasive culture of discriminatory bias against Latinos at MSCO that reaches the highest levels of the agency.”

The civil rights division of the Justice Department interviewed more than 400 inmates, deputies and others as part of the review.

Here are some of the latest details released by the Justice Department and the media:

  • Latino drivers were four to five times more likely to be stopped in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, than non-Latino drivers.
  • Roughly one-fifth of traffic-related incident reports contained information showing that stops may have violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable seizures.
  • In a number of instances, the office acted on immigration-related crime suppression activities. But the complaints that initiated the enforcement described no actual criminal activity. Instead, complaints referred to people with “dark skin” gathering in one area, or people speaking Spanish at a local business.
  • Detention officers punish Latino inmates with limited English proficiency by locking down their cells or imposing solitary confinement when they don’t understand English commands.
  • Detention officers refuse to accept forms completed in Spanish when inmates have limited English proficiency. Forms include requests for daily services and forms allowing inmates to report mistreatment.
  • Detention officers use racial slurs and profanities against Hispanics in Arpaio’s jail.
  • MCSO treats all Latinos as if they are undocumented, even if there is no basis for suspecting that a person is undocumented.
  • Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez told reporters on Thursday that the department is also “reviewing allegations that MSCO may have failed to investigate a large number of sex crimes.” There are reports of 432 cases of sexual assault and child molestation, many involving Latino victims, that may have not been properly investigated.

Arpaio has been called “America’s toughest sheriff” because of his strict law enforcement tactics. He worked for the Justice Department for 28 years as a law enforcement official and is a former agent for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

At a news conference on Thursday, reporters asked Arpaio whether he cared about the Latino community.

“I do have compassion, but enforcing the law overrides my compassion,” he said.

As a result of the report, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the federal government will no longer allow the sheriff’s deputies to check the immigration status of inmates in their custody.

This is an issue that greatly affects our community. Thanks to the following sources for covering this story, and thank you to the U.S. Justice Department.

Please visit these links to learn more:

U.S. Finds Pervasive Bias Against Latinos by Arizona Sheriff

Ariz. sheriff illegally discriminated against Hispanics, Justice Dept. alleges

Arizona sheriff rebuts federal allegations of discrimination against Latinos

Joe Arpaio, Arizona Sheriff, Violated Civil Rights According to Justice Department Report

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