Immigrants and Workers Whose First Language is Not English

FACT:

According to the 2012 American Community Survey, over 61 million people reported speaking a language other than English at home.

Workers who are not proficient in English often earn lower incomes and may not understand that they can qualify for the EIC and the CTC. It is especially important for outreach messages to emphasize that immigrants who are legally authorized to work and have Social Security numbers (SSNs) may be eligible for the EIC, and that families may qualify for the CTC even if all family members do not yet have SSNs. Conducting outreach only in English will miss eligible workers who can greatly benefit from this information and assistance.

  • Use bilingual materials. This kit includes flyers, posters and envelope stuffers in English and Spanish. Flyers in 19 additional languages also are available on our website at www.eitcoutreach.org.
  • Dispatch bilingual staff or volunteers to explain the tax credits and answer questions at presentations to community groups or in one-to-one conversations. Immigrant workers may have trouble understanding complex tax rules or they might have been denied other public benefits, such as SNAP (formerly called food stamps) or Medicaid, in the past and might assume they do not qualify for tax benefits. Immigrants may incorrectly believe that claiming tax benefits could jeopardize their immigration status or their ability to become a citizen.
  • Provide information about the EIC and the CTC through Newcomers Clubs, settlement houses, immigrant aid associations and legal services. Organizations such as Catholic Charities, Jewish Family Services and Mutual Assistance Associations (MAA) provide helpful services to refugees. To find the MAA in your state, visit www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/resource/mutual-assistance-associations.
  • Partner with organizations that are likely to have bilingual and bicultural staff, including educational and social programs sponsored by churches, mosques or synagogues. Encourage schools to provide bilingual material about the tax credits, and work with English as a Second Language (ESL) programs or migrant education coordinators. Community events, such as health fairs, educational programs, job fairs, or holiday festivals also present outreach opportunities.
  • Enlist businesses in immigrant communities, such as ethnic grocery stores or restaurants, barber shops or nail salons. They are important places to display posters and flyers and to talk directly to customers.
  • Promote multi-lingual free tax help in the community. Immigrant workers and workers who have limited English proficiency may be especially vulnerable to ill-trained or dishonest commercial preparers. To provide an alternative, encourage trusted institutions in the community to establish VITA sites and recruit VITA volunteers. When advertising VITA sites, indicate which sites provide services in languages other than English.
  • Work with non-English language media. Many non-English speaking communities have their own radio and TV programs and newspapers. Encourage news coverage, run ads, write articles and develop public service spots on the tax credits. Identify the best times for broadcasting. For example, farm workers may listen to the radio in the pre-dawn hours before beginning work in the fields. For information on Spanish language media, contact National Council of La Raza at (202) 785-1670 or comments@nclr.org. For other non-English media by language or ethnicity, visit New America Media at news.newamericamedia.org/directory. Note: Membership is required to access some features.
Tax Credit Outreach IN ACTION

The Latino Resource Center (LRC) in Jackson, Wyoming, is a nonprofit organization that serves as a liaison between the Latino community, government agencies, and businesses. For eight years, LRC has provided free bilingual tax assistance and hosted a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC), which offers one-to-one tax education for English as a Second Language (ESL) taxpayers, including assistance resolving tax problems with the IRS.

To inform the Latino community about available tax credits, bilingual staff members held tax presentations in ESL classes at Central Wyoming College and conducted LITC presentations at two high schools to inform ESL parents and students entering the workforce about their rights and responsibilities as taxpayers. LRC also provided tax counseling at the Office of Public Health for expectant mothers.

During the 2013 tax season, LRC continued its eight year partnership with Teton County Library to host a VITA site. LRC promoted the site by placing flyers and posters at local banks, restaurants, community centers, and a Mexican market, and running bus ads about the service and its LITC program. LRC participated in two radio interviews and aired weekly five-minute “tax tips of the week” on Sundays during the tax season on a Spanish-language radio station. The Center also released a short documentary film, called “Latinos de Jackson Hole,” highlighting the integration of Latinos into the Jackson community through a number of LRC programs.

In 2013, LRC completed 305 tax returns, including 56 ESL returns, generating over $300,000 in federal tax refunds and tax preparation savings for the Jackson community.

Contact: Serafina McLeod, LRC, (307) 734-0333, programs@latinorc.org

Glad You Asked That!

Q: Can immigrant workers get the EIC?
A: Many immigrants who are legally authorized to work can get the EIC. The immigrant worker, his or her spouse, and children listed on the Schedule EIC must each have a valid Social Security number that permits work in the U.S. The “qualifying children” must have lived with the worker in the U.S. for more than six months of the year. Also, the worker’s main home must be in the U.S.

Q: Can immigrant workers get the CTC?
A: If they qualify, immigrant workers can get the CTC if they or their qualifying children have either a valid SSN (including a non-work SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). The child must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien who lives in the U.S.