Concord company helps immigrant families wade through tax code

  • For John Amin Wani and Lea Tuyisabe it began by helping the immigrant population with their taxes, but the business has flourished and they now have expanded their business to the general public. GEOFF FORESTER/ Monitor staff

  • For John Amin Wani and Lea Tuyisabe it began by helping the immigrant population with their taxes but the business has flourished and they now have expanded their business to the general public. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 4/25/2021 2:33:34 PM

In 2015, while visiting his old friends and roommates, John Wani asked what they thought about starting a tax preparing company.

His friends, Francois Ruvera and his wife Bijoux Bahati, agreed with the idea, and Foresight Tax Services was born, right there in the living room of their Manchester apartment.

“We all saw there was a demand,” Wani said, specifically to help immigrants with their U.S. taxes. Wani and the others said they saw “predatory tax practices against refugees and new immigrants, and a lot of misconceptions too about the whole tax code. So, if we started, we can make things straight here.”

Wani and Ruvera had a strong background in business. Wani is a graduate of the Southern New Hampshire University school of business with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and has experience in finance with the South Sudan Community of New Hampshire, a non-profit organization. Ruvera has a bachelor’s in accounting from Champlain College, a graduate degree in finance from SNHU, and a master’s degree in business administration with a focus in accounting.

Now, Foresight operates in Concord and in Buffalo, New York. They chose Concord because they had connections to the refugee community here and Bahati worked with refugee children in the school district. Ruvera serves as the company’s CEO and president, Wani as the CFO, and Bahati as the chief marketing officer.

“Our mission is to be able to help immigrants understand the tax code,” said Ruvera. Foresight offers tax preparation services, as well as bookkeeping for small businesses, and while they cater specifically to the immigrant population, Ruvera said, they will do business with anyone who needs their services.

In addition to their financial background, all three of the Foresight founders speak multiple languages – a helpful tool when serving a diverse immigrant population. Wani, who is originally from South Sudan and lived in Cairo, Egypt, speaks Arabic and Moru. Ruvera, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, speaks Kiswahili, Kirundi, Kinyarwanda, Kinyanja, and French. And Bahati, also from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, speaks Kiswahili and Kimbembe.

“We have seen a lot of demand, especially in the tax field,” said Ruvera.

Wani recalled that 40 people showed up at their first unofficial location, their kitchen table. Now, Ruvera said that they serve over 150 clients in the Concord and Buffalo areas combined and that they prepare taxes for people in all 50 states.

For this particular tax season, the Foresight team is preparing to help clients with the implications of the COVID-19 stimulus package passed early this year, which includes an expanded child tax credit and expanded earned income tax credit.

Bahati said that Foresight intends to put extra effort into educating clients on the effects of these changes and how they can benefit, because if someone does their taxes wrong, they can miss out on the benefits being offered.

Ruvera added that they do this all the time, especially in an attempt to help parents nail down financial aid for their kids. “We are seeing the child getting impacted because their parents didn’t do their taxes right,” he said. Foresight’s goal is to help people prevent that.

“We’re helping people see how, if your finances are not put together in the right way, it can really impact your life and your children’s life,” Bahati said.

Additionally, the Foresight team tries to help people identify scams and those trying to take advantage of their lack of tax knowledge.

“People assume that they do not have options, so they think that the fraudulent practitioners that they go to are the only option,” Bahati said. “Our role is to be available to people, to give them tips and hints on how to identify someone who does not have their best interest in mind, and making sure they’re doing everything correctly.”

Falling victim to a scam disproportionately affects the immigrant and refugee communities, Bahati added.

“When people start getting into financial troubles, that does not mean well for a new family that is just trying to get over the trauma of war and everything else,” Bahati said. Another one of Foresight’s goal, she added, is to do everything possible to help new immigrants and get them integrated into the community.

For more information about Foresight Tax Services, visit their website.

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