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Taxes key for Hispanics on health care, immigration future

May 28, 2013 by  

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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  

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Hispanic Access Foundation provides free tax education workshops around
the country to help Hispanics navigate the U.S. tax system.

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.

 

Hispanic Access Foundation Announces the Second Winner of the New York New Futuro Laptop Photo Contest!

November 12, 2012 by  

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In New York there was a tie for the number of the most likes, with both contestants getting more than 1,200 likes!  We are now announcing our second winner, Miss Ana Rodriguez.

A little about Ana: She is Mexican- American and lives in the Bronx.  She’s currently a 10th grader.  At her high school she is studying design and construction because she wants to be an architect.   She wants to go to college in Florida.

Her sister took her to the New Futuro event, after her Spanish teacher had encouraged her to go.

Hispanic Access Foundation participated in the New Futuro college prep fairs because we know that for families a college education is very important but that Hispanics are still not graduating from college at the rates this country needs for its economic future and prosperity.

How else has Hispanic Access Foundation be involved?

  • Executive Director Maite Arce is 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 HAF team member Liz Neuenschwander gave presentations to parents and students titled, “Family Involvement in Education” and “Pathway to College.”
  • H&R Block sponsored Hispanic Access’ involvement in the New Futuro events, so to find us follow the signs for the H&R Block booths and workshops.

 

Our Newest Partnership

Jockey Mario Gutierrez will be attempting to win the first Triple Crown since 1978, after winning both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness with horse I’ll Have Another.  They’ll be racing on June 9th at Belmont Park.

The Hispanic Access Foundation has recently learned about the men and women who work behind the scenes at Belmont Park.  Through a partnership with the Race Track Chaplaincy of New York, we’ve been working to bring these workers tax information through our “Preparate Para un Futuro Mejor,” (Prepare Yourself for a Better Future).

Learn more about these workers with scenes from the backside of the tracks:

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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