Building Bridges with New Neighbors
Have you ever been the “new guy” in the group? You don’t know the rules or how things work – it can be an unsettling feeling. It takes welcoming, understanding friends to help bridge that gap to make you feel comfortable and at ease in your new surroundings.
Building bridges is not new to the Work United team. Most of their client visits involve helping people navigate in new surroundings, learning the ropes, and getting comfortable with unfamiliar situations. It is an important skill for a resource coordinator to have, and the Upper Valley team are experts!
Each year Work United offers one-on-one tax preparation assistance to dozens of clients in need. In many cases, clients are getting back a refund (sometimes quite sizable) that will make a big difference in their household budget. This year was no different except that many of the clients seeking assistance with tax preparation were new Americans.
Remember that “new guy” feeling we talked about – add IRS tax rules and a second language to that and you’ve gone from unsettling to downright terrifying! Paying taxes isn’t unique to the United States, but learning the system is a task that few look forward to in the very best of circumstances.
Edwin and his family moved to the United States from the Republic of Ghana in late 2019 and was faced with American taxes for the first time this year. His colleague at work introduced him to Pru Pease, the Director of the Work United initiative in the Upper Valley.
“She didn’t do it for me, she guided me and I was able to do it myself,” said Edwin of his time working with Pru. “At first I was afraid I was going to do it wrong – make a mistake - fill in the wrong numbers. But my Pru made it so easy for me. In Ghana, the system is totally different. We only pay income taxes and there is never a refund,” he said.
You can imagine his surprise when he saw the sizable return he got. It was enough to put towards a down payment on a home that he and his family hope to buy next year. Until then, they will keep saving and planning for the big purchase.
Edwin’s story is not unusual. The prospect of facing the IRS for the first time can be daunting for new Americans but Work United was there this year to help. It is their hope that next year, those who were helped this year can go on to help others!