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Recent immigrants encounter many challenges as they seek to integrate into American society and make a better life for themselves and their families. Today’s economic downturn has stalled the rapid rise of Hispanics in the workforce, however, according to a report by the Population Labor Bureau, by 2050, the Hispanic population is projected to reach 24 percent of U.S. the labor force. Hispanics whether foreign born or not, need access to quality tax information to comply with the legal obligation of accurately submitting their taxes to the IRS each year.
Latinos are a strong part of our nation’s workforce and need greater access to information about their tax obligation and the possibility that they may be eligible for a tax refund
Hispanic Access Foundation’s information and referral hotline has received hundreds of calls from individuals nationwide requesting information about taxes- many having had experiences with fraudulent tax preparers. In response to this, HAF partnered with H&R Block, the largest and most trusted tax preparation firm in the United States, having served 50 million through its more than 13,000 locations in the past 50 years. H&R Block also offers 2,100 bilingual office locations serving Spanish-speaking consumers.
H&R Block’s values of respect, responsibility and integrity are shared by HAF and its network of faith based partners. Through a win-win collaboration; HAF created broader awareness of H&R Blocks’ trusted and quality tax preparation services within the immigrant workforce, reaching this special population to increase the number ITIN tax returns. Individuals and families benefited from expert advice from H&R Block employees to learn about the ITIN, fulfill their tax obligation, in some cases to receive a tax refund, and to acquire an important tool, which can be used to open a bank account or when purchasing a home.
H&R Block and HAF joined forces to implement a 6-week pilot project in June and July of 2010. The primary goals of this project were to increase knowledge about the ITIN, the importance of meeting one’s tax obligation regardless of immigration status, quality tax preparation services and its benefits, and to assist individuals in locating bilingual tax preparation services. Houston, Texas was selected as the pilot city due to its concentration of Spanish-speaking individuals who are eligible for the ITIN.
HAF worked in close partnership with local faith based networks and Tierra Prometida to develop and launch a culturally sensitive grassroots faith-based outreach project that mobilized 62 Houston Hispanic evangelical churches to achieve the goals of the project. We tracked data throughout this project to measure our impact and learn more about the challenges and successes we experienced along the way. Our results included:
- Partnerships: 62 Hispanic evangelical churches engaged in pulpit communications, materials distribution, and in hosting and promoting ITIN education workshops with Block bilingual tax experts.
- Mobilizing Congregations: HAF worked with and through Hispanic clergy to inform 33,522 individuals who were in attendance when faith leaders made pulpit announcements during church services regarding the ITIN education program activities.
- Building Capacity: Training was conducted by H&R Block experts to build the capacity of 65 volunteers around the ITIN. HAF partners, volunteers and field staff then distributed 23,157 Spanish-language materials to individuals.
- Increased Awareness: HAF and its partner, DIME Communications developed and launched a Spanish radio campaign that aired on both secular and Christian Spanish language stations throughout the project period. Radio spots were developed and aired 100 times on Que Buena FM radio, 920AM Las Ondas de Amor, and KLAT AM radio Univision. Live radio and television interviews of participating clergy and lay educators were broadcast on Vision Celestial.
- Information & Referral: HAF’s bilingual hotline received calls in response to the media campaign and referred callers to our local workshops and Blocks bilingual offices throughout Metro Houston.
- Special Events: HAF’s field team, our faith partners, and Block bilingual tax experts held (21) 2-hour training workshops for 490 individuals during the 6-week pilot program.