Immigration reform has become the proverbial hot potato, with neither major U.S. political party showing that it is ready to attack the issue in a serious manner. Though both parties have had their roles in the immigration reform stalemate, the latest round of non-starter political maneuvering was offered by the Republican side. In this most recent display of immigration reform tit for tat, the Republican members of the Senate offered to trade their support of unemployment for Americans for a law which prevents undocumented immigrants from claiming tax credits.
Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire introduced the amendment, which was reportedly opposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Though Reid has not announced his opposition to allowing the bill come to an up or down vote, a certain section of the Democratic majority, led by Majority Whip Dick Durbin, is working diligently to make sure that the bill is defeated.
It may seem strange that this latest confrontation centers on whether or not so-called illegal immigrants can claim tax credits. One would think that those who are not in the country legally would probably not file taxes. But, the IRS does allow undocumented workers to file taxes using a personal identification number instead of a social security number. On those tax filings, which undocumented workers are actually encouraged by the IRS to file, undocumented workers are not allowed to claim the Earned Income Credit. But they are allowed to claim the child tax credit, a refundable credit. According to the Treasury Department these kinds of filings numbered 2.3 million in 2010. With an average refund of $1,800, the total refunds to undocumented workers in that year equaled $4.2 billion.
The fact that undocumented workers receive tax refunds has been a thorn in the side of Republicans for years. Ayotte’s bill would target the ITIN numbers that undocumented workers use to file taxes. If the bill were to pass the last four digits of at least one of the filers on a given tax return would have to be given. The three month unemployment extension would be funded by the $20 billion which would be saved by eliminating the credit for undocumented workers.
Immigrants’ advocates say that children would be unfairly affected by the elimination of the tax credit. They argue that many of the children who are the subject of the child tax credit are actually American citizens, though one or both of their parents may be undocumented workers. Additionally, advocates say that many of the families are deeply impoverished and rely on the tax credit in order to help make ends meet.
As the U.S. continues to work through issues relating to people living in the country without the proper documentation these kinds of issues will unfortunately continue. It is vital that those who are in the country illegally, or who are looking to immigrate to the United States, have access to competent legal representation. The Austin immigration law firm, Lyttle Law Firm, is here to help. Contact us at 512-252-5225 or visit our website for help on your important immigration matter.