Even though tax season is still far away, a Hispanic advocacy group is encouraging filers to start thinking about their tax returns now, instead of waiting until April. Statistical information shows that Hispanic Americans, particularly those who have been in the country for less time, are generally less informed about their tax situation, which could lead to audits when taxes are incorrectly filed.
Many Hispanic immigrants are poorly informed about the tax structure in the U.S., which may be vastly different from their countries of origin. Experts say that Hispanic Americans have traditionally had fewer resources than other populations when it comes to filing their taxes. In many families, children are required to assume responsibility for family finances because of language barriers and difficulty understanding the rules.
Several non-profit groups are hoping to change that, though, by providing outreach to underrepresented Hispanic populations. One of these groups, the Hispanic Access Foundation, uses community and church leaders to educate Hispanic Americans about their tax options. These groups are attempting to provide resources to an underserved community by using innovative techniques.
The groups, including HAF, hold free tax workshops that are conducted in Spanish. These meetings are designed to help people navigate the fairly complicated U.S. tax system. Information is also provided to help Hispanic Americans protect themselves against fraud and establish a reliable tax history. Experts say that a strong tax history can pave the way to the approval of future citizenship requests.
Advocates say that the workshops are currently being held in 11 cities this year, all of which have large Hispanic populations. More than 50,000 people have been helped so far because of the non-profit efforts, and the groups say they intend to continue to expand.
In addition, although the groups are assisted by commercial tax preparers, program directors say that no advertising exists to pressure attendees into visiting those specific vendors. Instead, Hispanic Americans are encouraged to utilize the tax preparer or lawyer of their choice, or they can file their taxes themselves.
Source: VOXXI, “Hispanic Access Foundation makes taxes easy for Latinos,” Susana G. Baumann, Sept. 4, 2012