First generation immigrants are seldom fluent in English — the language in which all important governmental forms are written. Finally one of America's leading franchise organizations is doing something to help immigrants navigate the complexities.
Today there are an estimated 54 million Hispanics in the United States, up from 35 million in the year 2000 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This vibrant demographic already represents $1.5 trillion in buying power, and by 2060 the Hispanic population will more than double to represent more than 30% of the total U.S. population.
A revolutionary service for Hispanics
Liberty Tax Service sees this demographic shift as an opportunity to grow along with this population and to provide some much needed services, which is why Liberty is launching Siempre Tax+ LLC, a new brand dedicated to serving Hispanics in their own language.
“The thing that spurred the launching of Siempre was seeing the need for it,” says Martha O’Gorman, vice president of marketing at Liberty Tax Services. “In the past we’ve seen people come into the office who don’t speak English and have their returns done without fully understanding what’s going on. We want this to stop and to make sure that we’re servicing this community.”
O’Gorman says that they’ve seen lots of fraud in Hispanic community tax preparation, in particular what she calls “phantom tax preparers” that show up during the tax season. They charge $50 for a return but take no responsibility afterwards for their work and don’t offer services such as e-filing. Liberty has seen plenty of examples of this kind of shoddy work and is often called to help fix the faulty returns. “This fast growing segment of the population is underserved; they need the right kind of tax preparation and price,” O'Gorman says.
What makes Siempre Tax+ different and welcoming?
Siempre encompasses more than a translation of tax preparation into Spanish; it offers a range of services critical to immigrants such as immigration issues, notary public to witness document signings, help acquiring drivers licenses, Taxpayer IDs (ITIN) and of course tax preparation — all conducted in Spanish within a familiar Latino environment. Without financial literacy, it's nearly impossible to purchase a car, lease an apartment, get a good job or establish the credit needed for business loans, so the services offered by Siempre will help to establish the building blocks needed for a successful life in America.
Experienced leadership that understands the market
The chief operating officer of Siempre Tax+ is Carlos Perez, a native of Columbia who has lived and worked in the United States for 27 years. After college at Brigham Young in Utah, Perez helped build Latin American markets for several consumer brands, including the cosmetics company NuSkin where he also handled ethnic marketing initiatives to the Japanese, Chinese and Korean demographics. Perez is creating a team consisting of sales people, operations and marketing but Siempre Tax+ will share some services with Liberty Tax, including human resources and finance. “Our focus will be on franchise sales,” says Perez, “ to promote the brand and bring the story to franchisees.”
Nevertheless, Perez expects the bulk of Siempre’s business in the first year will consist of Liberty franchisees either opening a Siempre brand inside of their existing territories or converting a Liberty office in a highly Hispanic area to a Siempre office. Existing franchisees, especially those from Hispanic areas, are very excited about the opportunity. While Siempre is already marketing to people outside of the Liberty system to buy new franchises, they believe that growth will be from inside Liberty during their first year.
An ongoing commitment to the Hispanic community
Liberty’s commitment to the Hispanic community is one of the things that persuaded Carlos Perez to join Siempre. “They have done a lot of work serving the community,” he says. He was particularly impressed with Una Familia Sin Fronteras a 501c foundation that Liberty created to educate Hispanics on the financial issues related to living in the United States. Working with the Mexican consulate, the foundation is delivering programs throughout cities around the United States, including Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Omaha, Phoenix, Portland, Raleigh, San Antonio, Seattle and Washington DC.
Perez believes that financial literacy will be extremely important when immigration reform finally happens in the United States. “Those that have been filing their returns will be at the front of the line when immigration reform happens,” he says. “We want to make sure that people are ready when the time comes.”
Contact Liberty Tax for information about franchise opportunities.