Accurate Tax History Crucial For Hispanics' Health Care

Maite Arce, president of Hispanic Access Foundation addresses the crowd at a recent tax education workshop in DallasFor many Hispanics, barriers such as language, fraud and misinformation lead the list of complications they face when it comes to filing their tax return, which is a critical tool for healthcare eligibility and impending immigration reforms. To help address Spanish-speaking taxpayers’ needs for trustworthy and credible help, Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF) expanded its outreach and educational campaign in partnership with H&R Block, the world’s largest consumer tax services provider.
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As part of “Prepárate Para Un Futuro Mejor” (Prepare Yourself for a Better Future), nearly 200 free tax education workshops will be held in 18 markets nationwide. These workshops emphasize the importance of building an accurate tax history, provide insight on how to protect against fraud and misinformation in the tax preparation process, and outline how to meet some important requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and potential immigration rule changes.

“This campaign has helped tens of thousands of Hispanics with concerns about immigration status, past experiences with fraud and inadequate tax preparation,” said Maite Arce, president and CEO of HAF. “With the rapid expansion of the Hispanic population, it is essential to provide accurate information and access to bilingual, professional tax experts to successfully navigate the United States tax system. With a better understanding of the filing process, we can strengthen our families, communities and nation.”

While there have been many barriers for Hispanics, the Affordable Care Act provides a new incentive for tackling those challenges. Many people who do not have health insurance may be able to receive a subsidy to help with the cost based on their household income and family size. Eligibility for assistance can be determined from an individual’s 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, a key component of the Affordable Care Act is the health insurance exchange — a marketplace where consumers can shop for a health insurance plan.

“Hispanics have the highest uninsured rates of any racial or ethnic group in the country,” said Arce. “While the first step for everyone is to make sure your taxes are in order, for many Hispanics there is a steep learning curve. Not only are we providing education on the tax process, but also on why health insurance is important and how the system operates as a whole.”

In regards to immigration reform, it is expected that both political parties will support a reconciliation of unpaid taxes as a prerequisite on any path to legal residency or citizenship. While plan details are still being discussed, it would 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.

Since 2010, HAF has held over 700 workshops in more than 600 churches and community spaces nationwide. The 2014 campaign will feature workshops through March and another series in the fall.  A complete list of workshop dates and locations is available at www.pormifuturo.org.