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November 18, 2013 by Jennifer Brandt
FromVoxxi.com By Susana G. Baumann
While most Americans are talking about the viability of the new Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, not many understand the tax implications that this new law might have on their next year’s tax returns.
As the most important amend to the federal tax code in the last 20 years, the ACA will determine healthcare benefits and credits eligibility through individual, family and business tax returns. Then, an accurate tax return submission as well as a good tax history can be decisive for many families and businesses that rely on these benefits.
“A tax return is a very important tool for Latinos, regardless of their immigration status. Understanding and filling out a correct tax return each year can determine the possibility of finding a job, buying a house or going to school. It can also mean eligibility for immigration status and now, healthcare benefits,” said Maite Arce, president of Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF).
Through a strategic partnership with H&R Block –the largest source for tax preparation and online tax services–, the organization has concentrated its efforts in providing access to such vital information, now in 17 communities around the country.
High rates of uninsured among Latinos.
According to Arce, Latinos have higher rates of uninsured people than any other minority group in the country. Nearly one in three Hispanics lack health coverage –compared to one in five non-Hispanic Blacks and one in eight Non-Hispanic Whites, says a report from the National Council of La Raza (NCLR).
“Many Latinos feel they don’t know the basics, not only of how a tax return works, but also how the Affordable Care Act might affect their eligibility for tax credits and for fines –in case they decide not to apply for the benefits this year,” she said.
To fix that problem, HAF has partnered this fall on one hand with national non-profits approved as ACA navigators to help families, individuals and businesses apply for the new healthcare benefit. On the other, HAF provides information on both tax implications through a number of workshops conducted around the country.
“Over 30,000 individuals have gone through our workshops to try understanding how tax returns will work for them,” she said.
HAF is now offering these services in 17 communities around the country including Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Ft. Worth, TX; Denver, CO; Houston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Orange County, CA; Boston, MA; Miami/Broward County, FL; New York City Metro; Hudson County, NJ; Providence, RI; McAllen/Brownsville, TX; Phoenix, AZ; Riverside, CA; San Bernardino, CA; and Washington, DC.
Information of Obamacare tax implications for families and individuals
The tax professionals at H&R Block have prepared some common case scenarios with families and individuals at different income levels to help understand the tax implications for each one.
The case scenarios describe uninsured couples with children, couples insured through employment without coverage for their children, couples without children and single people. According to their income level, some people might be eligible for the new expansion of Medicaid also provided through the ACA. So far, 25 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid, and are accepting applications through their state websites.
The scenarios also describe the type of fines those who decide not to ascribe to the benefits will have to pay. Those fines would be included in their tax calculations next year.
If families or individuals’ income change during the year, it is advisable that they communicate their new situation to the IRS as soon as possible. Income variations might determine differences in tax credit eligibility –in receiving more or less tax credit. Those adjustments will be applied to the amount of taxes they owe or to their refund.
Obamacare and the undocumented
“Although undocumented Hispanics cannot have coverage under the new ACA, they can call our helpline to find out other resources in their communities that provide basic healthcare services,” Arce said.
The HAF president said that the first barrier for the Spanish-speaking population to access services is lack of knowledge of resources in their own communities. The second barrier is trusting the resources that provide the information and the service.
“We work with faith-based organizations that Latinos trust, as pastors and clergy act as third-party credibility,” Arce said. “Latino families are very interested in receiving Affordable Care Act information but there are still delays in understanding the information fully. It will be a slow process for this community,” she anticipates.
A complete list of workshop dates and locations is available at www.pormifuturo.org. For more information, those interested can call their helpline at 800-206-9096.
May 28, 2013 by Jennifer Brandt
WASHINGTON, March 28, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The 2012 tax return will have major impact for Hispanics, as it can be used in determining eligibility for the Affordable Care Act and immigration reforms will likely require individuals to pay any unpaid taxes. An ongoing project from the Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF), in partnership with H&R Block, the world’s largest consumer tax services provider, is seeking to educate Hispanics about the U.S. tax system and prepare them for upcoming changes.
“Prepárate Para Un Futuro Mejor” (Prepare Yourself for a Better Future) includes more than 150 free “Tax Talk” seminars across the nation. It emphasizes the importance of building an accurate tax history, provides tools to protect against fraud and misinformation in the tax preparation process, and outlines how to meet the demands of the Affordable Care Act and potential immigration rule changes.
“Hispanics need to have their taxes in order so they don’t miss out on potential benefits,” said Maite Arce, president of HAF. “Since the project’s launch in 2010, we have helped tens of thousands of Hispanics with tax issues, and now they are even more vigilant about building an accurate tax history.”
Starting in 2014, many people who do not have health insurance may be able to receive a subsidy based on their household income and family size to help with the cost. Eligibility for assistance can be determined from an individual’s 2012 tax return, which can also streamline the insurance plan enrollment process with a health insurance exchange. With the individual mandate requiring nearly everyone to have health insurance in 2014, a key component of Affordable Care Act is the health insurance exchange— a marketplace where consumers can shop for a health insurance plan.
As for immigration reform, it is expected that both political parties will support a reconciliation of unpaid taxes as a prerequisite on the path to legal residency or citizenship. While plan details are still being discussed, it will likely require individuals to submit tax documentation for multiple years – an individual will need to provide an accurate tax history as part of the application process.
“With the rapid expansion of the Latino population, it is essential to provide accurate information and access to bilingual tax experts in order to fully integrate Latinos into the tax system,” said Arce. “Our community wants to contribute our fair share. With a better understanding of the process, we can strengthen our families, communities and nation.”
The free “Tax Talk” seminars are scheduled in multiple cities across the country. A complete list of dates and locations is available at www.pormifuturo.org. For more information about HAF visit www.hispanicaccess.org.
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/03/28/5299568/taxes-key-for-hispanics-on-health.html#storylink=cpy
It’s Tax Season and April 15 Is Around the Corner Regardless of Immigration Status, We All Must File
March 21, 2013 by Jennifer Brandt
By: Javier Sierra
Remember: the deadline to submit your tax return documents is April 15. And there is a lot at stake for Latinos, regardless of your immigration status.
It’s not only the satisfaction of fulfilling your civic duties. Filing and paying your taxes is also a legal obligation that must be met with strict regularity.
If you are a legal resident, and you fail to declare your taxes, you can be deported. If you are a citizen, it can cost you heavy fines or even a prison term. In any instance, it can make your life very complicated.
“When applying for a loan, the tax return is required in the process. If you want to send your kids to college, the first thing financial aid providers will ask for is the tax return documents for that year,” says Helen Orosz, a tax advisor.
And if you are looking to legalize your immigration status, “it is a requirement to provide proof that you have paid your taxes during the last few years,” she adds.
“If you fail this test, they will not approve your application,” says Orosz. “If anyone wishes to legalize their situation, they need to start paying taxes right now if they have not done so in the past.”
To meet this prerequisite to achieve legal status, the first thing you need to do is request an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Remember this advice especially now that the U.S. Congress is debating immigration reform, which could make the path to legal residency and citizenship much easier for millions of Latinos in the country. But, current and accurate tax documentation will be one of the first prerequisites.
And don’t be afraid to request this crucial number from the IRS. You will have no immigration questions asked.
“The IRS is one the most powerful government agencies in Washington,” says Orosz, “but, it does not share information with Citizenship and Immigration Services. The IRS does not look at or determine immigration eligibility. Their job is to make sure that all tax obligations are met.”
There is another important aspect. Your tax return will be used to determine your situation regarding the Affordable Care Act, which requires that practically all of us have health insurance coverage by 2014.
If you cannot afford health insurance, your tax return this year will help establish your eligibility to receive a government subsidy to fulfill this requisite. But if you are indeed capable of buying this insurance, then the situation changes.
“If you fail to get insurance, then you will have to pay a fine, any amount between $50 and $950,” says Orosz. “Undocumented workers are also liable to pay a fine and won’t be eligible to receive any subsidies until they legalize their situation.”
And finally, your retirement is also at stake. When you pay your taxes, the IRS sets aside contributions to Social Security (your retirement money) and Medicare (medical help for seniors).
If you are an undocumented worker, “you won’t lose that money because the moment you legalize your situation and notify the IRS, you automatically become eligible to receive it,” adds Orosz.
Regardless of your immigration status, you must declare and pay your taxes to make a more prosperous future for your family.
For more bilingual information about your taxes, visit pormifuturo.org or call toll free 800.206.9096.
Javier Sierra comments about issues of national relevance for Latinos.
February 21, 2013 by Jennifer Brandt
By: Maite Arce
For Latinos, the 2012 tax return presents significant opportunity. In fact, the potential impact of key legislative changes for the nation’s fastest growing population is unprecedented.
Starting in 2014, many people — not just Latinos — who do not have health insurance may be able to receive a subsidy based on their household income and family size to help with the cost. Eligibility for assistance can be determined from an individual’s 2012 tax return, which can also streamline the insurance plan enrollment process with a health insurance exchange. With the individual mandate requiring nearly everyone to have health insurance in 2014, a key component of Affordable Care Act is the health insurance exchange — a marketplace where consumers can shop for a health insurance plan.
Latinos are by far the least insured demographic in the nation. For 2011, the U.S. Census estimated that 30.1 of Latinos are uninsured, compared to just 11.1 percent of whites. This lack of coverage is compounded by the fact that Latinos are 165 percent more likely to live in areas where environmental concerns can lead to greater health complications, according to the American Lung Society.
As for immigration reform, it is expected that both political parties will support a reconciliation of unpaid taxes as a prerequisite on the path to citizenship or legal residency. While plan details are still being discussed, it will likely require individuals to submit tax documentation for multiple years — an individual will need to provide an accurate tax history as part of the application process.
Unauthorized Latinos have long been chided for not filing taxes. But what is often overlooked is that state and local taxes paid in 2010 by households headed by unauthorized immigrants totaled $11.2 billion, according to the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy.
For the majority of Latinos, however, it’s not a question of not wanting to pay taxes (many do!) but rather a lack of understanding, not having an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), concern about immigration status or fear of the process. In fact, many Latinos who we meet have paid into the system for years, but never filed taxes.
In several of the countries from which our Latino immigrants come, the tax system is a wholly different process or not even enforced at all. Others have worked with unskilled tax preparers who miss even the most obvious deductions or those who add fraudulent deductions to inflate returns. Language barriers only exacerbate these issues.
This is why our campaign, “Prepárate Para Un Futuro Mejor (Prepare for a Better Future),” to educate Latinos on the U.S. tax system has been so successful. This tax season we will hold over 150 free tax seminars in coordination with Latino faith leaders as partners within the community and provide access to bilingual tax experts. Since 2010, we’ve provided tax education and information to over 50,000 Latinos. Our emphasis is on the importance of building an accurate tax history and being a good contributor.
By looking at future economic factors, the importance of this education becomes evident. Latino buying power is expected to reach $1.5 trillion in 2015, according to a recent Nielsen report. The U.S. Census estimated that there are more than 2.3 million Latino business owners contributing more than $350 billion to the nation’s economy.
Furthermore, the Latino population is expected to double to 100 million by 2050, and tax contributions will grow along with it. Affordable health care and immigration acceptance may be incentives for Latinos to file taxes, but the benefit will help our nation’s tax income grow and improve the lives of many.
October 3, 2012 by Jennifer Brandt
By Catharine M. Hamm, Los Angeles Times Travel editor
Cesar E. Chavez, the son of migrant laborers whose nonviolent struggle for farm laborers’ rights won him comparisons to Gandhi, will be commemorated with a new national monument in Keene, Calif.
President Obama is expected to travel to Keene on Oct. 8 to formally establish the monument, the 398th park unit in the U.S. (A national park generally has “outstanding scenic feature or natural phenomena,” according to the National Park Service website. “National monuments, on the other hand … contain objects of historic, prehistoric, or scientific interest.”)
The Chavez monument will be at a site known as Nuestra Senora Reina de la Paz (Our Lady Queen of Peace), in the foothills of the Tehachapi Mountains. It was here that the United Farm Workers of America was founded in the 1970s, an organization in which Chavez played a pivotal part. Chavez and his family also lived here until his death in 1993. He is buried here and the new monument will include his gravesite.
As a labor activist, Chavez helped farm workers achieve wage increases and better working conditions. He believed in nonviolence and often fasted to accentuate his points. A water-only fast in 1988 was said to have damaged his health.
In the Los Angeles Times obituary for Chavez, state Sen. Art Torres said: “He was our Gandhi. He was our Dr. Martin Luther King.”
In the obituary, then-President Clinton said, “The labor movement and all Americans have lost a great leader with the death of Cesar Chavez. An inspiring fighter for the cause to which he dedicated his life, Cesar Chavez was an authentic hero to millions of people throughout the world.”