H&R Block at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Annual Conference: “Taxes: The Tax Code – Bridging or Broadening the Wealth Gap”
H&R Block Chief Government Relations Officer Marie van Luling spoke at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s Hispanic Heritage Month event “Taxes: The Tax Code – Bridging or Broadening the Wealth Gap” hosted by Congressman Xavier Becerra on September 14, 2016. The event addressed the growing wealth gap and the role the tax code plays in addressing income inequality faced by Latinos. Panelists, including van Luling, explored U.S. tax laws with a focus on tax expenditures, including but not limited to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Refundable Child Tax Credit and tax credits for homeowners.
Other panelists included Ellen Nissenbaum, senior vice president of government affairs at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and Samantha Vargas Poppe, associate director of the Policy Analysis Center at the National Council of La Raza. They discussed how changes to the tax code and increased awareness of available credits could lessen the poverty gap for Latinos.
After each panelist gave their remarks, they were asked about policy recommendations on improving the tax code for working families and how to better engage Latino leaders, voters and stakeholders.
Van Luling highlighted that H&R Block is working toward reducing complexity in the tax code for filers, noting that 15 percent of H&R Block’s 10,000 offices are currently engaged in Latino-focused communities. When asked about what teachers can do to their educate their communities, van Luling noted that H&R Block’s Budget Challenge helps students learn how to manage their money by increasing financial literacy that could help close the gap. Congressman Becerra asked each panelist for concluding remarks and van Luling emphasized that “we can have the best policies and the right answers but it takes a lot of people, energy and engagement to make changes to the tax code.”
Editor’s Note: As of 2019, the H&R Block Dollars and Sense and Budget Challenge programs are no longer active. Learn more about H&R Block’s community impact platform, Make Every Block Better, which seeks to improve the heart of every community through supporting small businesses and revitalizing neighborhoods.