The 2012 tax return will have major impact for some U.S. Hispanics. It can be used in determining eligibility for the Affordable Care Act, for instance, and immigration reforms will likely require individuals to pay any unpaid taxes.
An ongoing project from the Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF), in partnership with tax preparer H&R Block, seeks to educate Hispanics about the U.S. tax system and prepare them for upcoming changes.
"Preparate 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 -- commonly known as Obamacare -- 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 the 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. That is, 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."
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