Hispanic associations serve accountants and students

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Hispanics are the largest and fastest growing minority in the United States. When you consider the $18 billion tax industry and the estimated 3.2 million businesses projected to be owned by Hispanics by next year, the opportunities are clear.

Those statistics are provided by the Latino Tax Professionals Association (LTPA), which was founded two years ago with a goal of being dedicated to excellence in tax preparation and related services, according to its founder and president Carlos Lopez, who is bilingual and runs his own firm. Lopez said the association has a immigration point of view. Based in Salinas, CA, the lettuce capital of the country, Lopez knows his demographic.

"We want to help them grow their business", he said.

LTPA serves Latino professionals who work in all areas of tax practice, including individual practitioners, accounting and bookkeeping services, enrolled agents, CPAs, and immigration attorneys. The IRS considers the association a national stakeholder liaison and IRS.gov provides a link to LTPA's web site, LatinoTaxPro.org.

Lopez said about 60 percent of tax fraud by paid preparers is by preparers who are unregistered and unlicensed.

"We are focused on the massive amount of unlicensed tax preparers and getting them ready for the IRS national preparer registration program", Lopez said. "We are working with a lot of firms."

Focused on bringing diversity to the fields of finance and accounting, the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA) is one of the largest associations for Latino professionals and students, with more than 11,000 members and 38 chapters nationwide. The group provides many opportunities for members to advance professional growth, and it gives professionals and students access to mentors and business leaders.

"Here is where the fusion of the professional sector and the culture of our Latino community really create something dynamic", said Zenaida Avelar Mendoza, ALPFA's national vice president of marketing and branding. "Building relationships is not just a tag line in our mission; it is something our members truly believe in."

Building strong leaders is an ALPFA goal, and the association offers many ways for members to network, including an annual convention, annual leadership summit, a group focused on women members, and a student internship and leadership program. In the past four years, ALPFA has partnered with sponsors and the Hispanic College Fund to award nearly $600,000 in scholarships.

Lopez's much newer association, LTPA, has 160 paying members and another 3,000 professionals who receive the organization's e-mail communications. Lopez said the association is creating a sense of community and providing a unified voice at a national level. It offers easy-to-understand tax courses and timely information on the latest tax issues. LatinoTaxPro.org is loaded with information, calculators of all kinds, member chats, and daily news alerts. The organization even has videos on youtube.com about tax preparers and their roles.

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