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4 dead as severe storms hit Houston, TX; Election Protection Program eases access to voting information; surge in solar installations eases energy costs for Missourians; IN makes a splash for Safe Boating Week.

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The Supreme Court rules funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is okay, election deniers hold key voting oversight positions in swing states, and North Carolina lawmakers vote to ban people from wearing masks in public.

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During tax time crunch, multilingual sites in MN pitch in

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Friday, April 5, 2024   

Minnesotans who haven't completed their tax returns yet might be fretting about meeting the April 15th deadline. For those facing language barriers or other resource issues, the concern is even greater, but help is available. In the Twin Cities and around Minnesota, there are free tax preparation sites staffed with multi-lingual volunteers, including those who speak Spanish. And the organization COPAL provides plenty of tax guidance to Latino populations in the communities it serves.

Claudia Lainez, Workers' Center director of the Communities Organizing Latino Power and Action said that includes assisting undocumented individuals as they get ready to file their returns. Despite certain myths, she said they are required to pay taxes like everyone else.

"And they pay a lot more taxes because, sometimes, they are not eligible for credits," she explained.

A key change this year is that these households are eligible for Minnesota's new Child Tax Credit. Undocumented people file their returns using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or I-TIN. COPAL and partner organizations can help secure this tool. On its website, the state Department of Revenue lists free preparation sites that help those who speak little or no English.

Some of these locations are by appointment only or have limited hours. Meanwhile, Lainez said part of their education is explaining to immigrants who are new to the state the importance of paying taxes.

"We have to provide information that taxes are good for the infrastructure of the city where you live in - for schools, for example, " she continued.

With less than two weeks before the tax filing deadline, she says there's also guidance for information seekers on how to get an extension. Certain sites in the state also help Hmong, Somali and Vietnamese populations.

Disclosure: COPAL MN contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement, Environmental Justice, Immigrant Issues, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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