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Tax Literacy For Immigrants

Getting your taxes done right is complicated enough if you’re a lifelong, English-speaking native. For immigrants who may not speak English and may be coming from countries with little to no tax enforcement, filing taxes can be even more difficult.

Matthew Erdman is a lawyer who helps Latino immigrants file their taxes. He says he’s had clients come to his office with boxes full of unopened letters from the IRS that they’ve avoided out of anxiety or general tax illiteracy. Erdman says some undocumented immigrants worry that filing their taxes may attract unwanted attention from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

There are a number of places in Oregon where immigrants can get help filing taxes, but there are also predatory tax preparers that aim to take advantage of people not familiar with the tax system. What is the best way for immigrants to navigate taxes?

Do you have experience filing taxes as an immigrant? What barriers have you faced?

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OPB | March 21, 2013