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March 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.
December 4, 2012 by Jennifer Brandt
Cortes , a 17-year-old twelfth grader from Chicago, was born in Puerto Rico and is now deciding on her college, which is between Occidental College, Northwestern University, Boston University, University of Miami and the University of Iowa. She would like to become an editor or possibly an author after graduation. She fondly remembers reading her first book with her mother and the bond that formed between them. She would like to help others to experience that too.
Cortes was made awared of the New Futuro opportunity by Chicago Scholars, which provided transportation for her and her mother to Navy Pier for the event.
“I would like to thank the 1,463 Facebook friends who liked my picture and for their encouraging comments. I would also like to thank the Hispanic Access Foundaion for his amazing opportunity!” said Cortes. “It is so much help and one less thing to worry about as an entering college freshman. My family and I can’ thank you enough.”
Hispanic Access Foundation participated in the New Futuro college prep fairs because, even though families place a high value on college education, Hispanics are not graduating from college at the rates this country needs for its economic future and prosperity.
How else has Hispanic Access Foundation been involved?
- Executive Director Maite Arce served as an expert panelist on a televised Spanish-language discussion with parents and students regarding meaningful access to college.
- HAF Board Member, Marta Sanchez and Liz Neuenschwander, HAF’s operations manager, gave presentations to parents and students titled, “Family Involvement in Education” and “Pathway to College.”
- H&R Block sponsored HAF’s involvement in the New Futuro events.
November 25, 2012 by Jennifer Brandt
Hispanic Access Foundation takes action to help more Latinos get into college
With Latinos now making up nearly a quarter of the 18-and-under population in the country and projected to grow, the importance of promoting and expanding post-secondary opportunities for them has become a critical need. As part of this effort, Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF) has made education one of its four core priorities and will be participating in New Futuro’s College Prep Fair.
“Education is the key to building a better life. A strong foundation of learning can unlock doors to financial and personal success for Latinos,” said Maite Arce, HAF’s executive director. “Education is the critical centerpiece not only to the future of the Hispanic community but also to the country’s future.”
While Latinos aged 18 and under currently make up 23 percent of the country’s population, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that total to rise to 36 percent by 2020. As of 2010, only 13 percent of Hispanics held at least a bachelor’s degree, while 6.2 percent of full-time college students were Hispanic.
“The numbers tell us that more needs to be done to help Latinos gain access to higher-education opportunities,” said Arce. “Latinos want to go to college and parents place an extremely high value on education, but often times they lack the knowledge, resources or support to make it happen.”
Affordability is often one of the main barriers for Hispanics in attending or completing college. A Pew Research Center study found that 87 percent of Latinos identified lack of resources as a barrier to their higher education and career development.
As part of the College Prep Fair, HAF is providing workshops for parents and students on how to prepare for and finance higher education, including the use of financial aid, tax-free savings accounts and scholarships. Additionally, Arce is participating on the College Prep Fair’s panel discussion televised by Telemundo. In the exhibit hall, HAF has been providing laptop giveaways to those students who show their desire to go to college through HAF’s Facebook page.
This work has been an extension of HAF’s other work. In its tax education workshops, held throughout the county, HAF has helped parents and students get their financial documentation in order to apply for financial aid. The organization has also launched youth leadership development initiatives in Colorado.
“We need to make sure Hispanics understand how to navigate the university system,” said Arce. “They need the tools to tear down the roadblocks and continue on the college-degree path. If we don’t take action now, a vast segment of our country’s population will lack the education necessary to strengthen us as a whole.”
The next College Prep Fair, which takes place on Nov. 10 in Chicago, is one of several in a series that have taken place this fall. HAF has presented at the fairs in Miami, New York, Los Angeles and Houston.