Tax preparation chains aim for immigrant filers

first_imgKANSAS CITY, Mo. – Pedro Morales filed his first income tax return four years ago, a difficult decision for an illegal immigrant and one that caused years of headaches because the apartment manager who prepared his return made so many mistakes. “It doesn’t help when you have a bad experience, because it makes you want to give up,” said Morales, 37, through an interpreter, acknowledging that many of his neighbors in Johnson County, Kan., who are illegal immigrants don’t file income tax returns. But Morales has continued to file taxes with the help of more-informed preparers, hoping to build a tax history that will help his case when he eventually applies for permission to remain in the United States. Morales isn’t alone. Many immigrants are filing tax returns either because of requirements showing a five-year record of tax payments when applying for a green card or a simple desire to get a refund. “They want to be compliant,” said Maria Aranda, who teaches financial literacy classes for El Centro, a Kansas City-are organization. She helped Morales with his taxes. It’s difficult to determine how many immigrants are filing income tax returns in the U.S. because the Internal Revenue Service doesn’t track tax filers by their immigration status. But paid tax preparation chains, such as H&R Block Inc., say they have seen anecdotal growth and are working hard to attract more of them. Kansas City-based H&R Block, the nation’s largest tax preparer, is going after the market in two ways. First, it has bulked up the number of retail offices with bilingual tax preparers, hoping immigrants are more comfortable discussing their financial situation in their own language. Next, the company last year rolled out what it calls its “spot franchise” program, which establishes H&R Block offices in major metropolitan neighborhoods where immigrant groups have concentrated. Waseem Hashlamoun’s company, Al-Muhaseb, or “The Accountant” in Arabic, has served his Middle Eastern-rich neighborhood on the north side of Chicago since 1995. Hashlamoun became an H&R Block affiliate last year, a move he said has allowed him to focus more on running the business than worrying about training his tax filers and has provided his customers with H&R Block’s full menu of financial services. “When we switched last year, over 95 percent of those who walked into the office asked, `Why did you change?’ It’s for you guys that I changed, so I can offer better services and products to you,” he said.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img
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Ontario ticket takes Saturday nights 5 million Lotto 649 jackpot

first_imgTORONTO – The $5 million jackpot in Saturday night’s Lotto 649 draw was claimed by a ticket sold somewhere in Ontario.And the guaranteed $1 million prize went to a ticket holder in British Columbia.The jackpot for the next Lotto 649 draw on Nov. 29 will again be approximately $5 million.last_img

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