Such growth is bound to draw attention. We’ve seen and heard many of the presidential hopefuls — the big exception being Donald Trump of course — in their attempt to engage the Latino community in hopes of winning its support later this November. Corporations around the country have launched campaigns aimed at attracting the Latino market through Spanish language television, radio and print ads. Even a quick perusal of the want ads shows employers looking for new hires with bilingual skills.
Yet, there are many areas where outreach to the Latino community, especially more recent immigrants, is necessary not just for the benefit of Latinos, but also for the nation as a whole.
Taxes are a perfect example. An inevitable rite of passage for anyone living in the United States, taxes have an impact on many areas of life including citizenship, healthcare, college loans and even home ownership — it’s a building block to the future.
And imagine in the future if a segment of the country that makes up nearly one-third of the population lacks the healthcare, education and financial security for long-term success. We would all feel the effects of this.
It’s important to point out that for the majority of Latinos, it’s not a question of not wanting to pay taxes — many do. In fact, a new report from the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy found that undocumented immigrants pay a total of $11.64 billion in state and local taxes each year.
A bigger issue is the actual filing of their taxes due to 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 how to navigate the U.S. tax system has been so successful. This tax season, in coordination with Latino faith leaders, we are holding free tax seminars with access to bilingual tax professionals. Since 2010, we’ve held over 1,200 tax education workshops and directly helped over 60,000 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. Hispanic buying power is expected to reach $1.7 trillion by 2019, according to a recent Nielsen report. The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce reports that there are more than 3.1 million Hispanic business owners contributing nearly $470 billion to the nation’s economy.
The Latino community is a powerful, growing force in our country and its emphasis on tax responsibility will strengthen our families and nation as a whole. Through education and access to bilingual, professional tax experts, we can equip this community with the tools it needs to prepare for the future.
And by preparing Latinos for the future, our nation’s tax income will grow and improve the lives of many.