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A male presenting individual with gray hair in a gray sweater against a background of vibrant green plants. A male presenting individual with gray hair in a gray sweater against a background of vibrant green plants.

Meet Manson

Building Trust While Maximizing Benefits

 

In this population, you always have newcomers… they are just so afraid to be known.

 

Manson, who serves at Self Help for the Elderly, dedicates himself to guiding new Chinatown residents through the initial challenges of making a home in the neighborhood. When it comes to tax matters, he refers them to the Free Tax Help service offered by United Way Bay Area. Drawing from his extensive work with immigrants, Manson has become a vocal advocate and UWBA Ambassador for this crucial program, championing the benefits of tax assistance in a community where trust is hard-earned.

His work is fueled by an understanding of the people he serves, their hesitations, and the impact he knows these services can have on their lives.

 

In the past year or two, [we’ve had] a lot of new [migrants] seeking political asylum and getting legal status. So, the next step is to educate those that have legal status with a Tax I.D., to let them know the benefit of reporting tax.

 

The newcomers he references often fear the implications of a tax filing; that doing so could lead to unwanted scrutiny or worse, expose their immigration status. It’s a myth that circulates the community and one that Manson pushes back against, explaining the reality is often the opposite.

 

The truth is, when you [make] less than $40,000 a year, [maybe] you have a child, more than likely, you get money back. [So] filing taxes is a good thing.

 

Manson’s approach is personal, direct, and rooted in a sincere desire to better the community. He’s seen the relief wash over faces when they realize they’re getting a significant return, so for him, it’s really about trust and breaking down barriers.

 

We don’t share information without the client’s consent. So, they trust us. But we do that on a day-to-day basis – we’re on the frontline, engaging them. And that’s important.

 

He points out, as an example, that when a mother of three ends up with an $8,000 refund, which was more than she had paid in taxes throughout the year, word travels fast.
Nowadays, there’s a consistent line on the weekends of people seeking to use Free Tax Help. Manson considers this a point of pride that the community knows there are programs and the individuals behind them who go the extra mile to ensure their neighbors understand their rights, benefits, and the opportunities available to them.

 

We don’t just do taxes. We help them to stand on their own feet.

*The image has been changed to maintain privacy.