Paying illegal immigrants to live here
The Obama administration waited until late on the Thursday afternoon before the Labor Day weekend to roll down the window of a speeding car and throw out a news item they hoped no one would see.
A report by the Treasury Department’s inspector general confirms that in 2010, illegal immigrants received checks from the IRS totaling $4.2 billion.
Once again, in case your brain refused to absorb that information:
Illegal immigrants living in the United States were paid $4.2 billion of your tax dollars last year.
Who says so?
The Internal Revenue Revenue Service and the Treasury Department’s inspector general.
How did this happen?
Illegal immigrants who work illegally still have to file tax returns and pay income taxes on the money they earned. They can’t legally obtain a Social Security number, so the IRS issues something they call an ITIN, an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
In 2010, 2.3 million taxpayers with ITINs claimed the Additional Child Tax Credit, which is “refundable.” That means the government will send “tax refund” checks to people who qualify for the tax credit, even if they didn’t pay any income taxes at all.
The Additional Child Tax Credit, along with the plain old Child Tax Credit, allows people with young kids to get subsidy checks from the government to the tune of thousands of dollars a year. The more kids, the more money.
“Before 2001, filers needed to have three or more children to qualify — and to owe more Social Security taxes than earned income credits,” the Washington Post reported in a blog post on its web site, “But those requirements have been eliminated and the allowable refund for each child doubled. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 also made the refund easier to get, auditors found.”
Because of the relaxed restrictions, “more taxpayers could claim the ACTC or claim a greater amount,” the inspector general’s report said.
So in 2010, 2.3 million undocumented workers filed tax returns claiming the Additional Child Tax Credit. The IRS sent them “tax refund” checks totaling $4.2 billion. That’s money that was collected from other taxpayers, like the forgotten single people who don’t own a house or have kids and don’t qualify for the tax breaks that help roughly fifty percent of the country pay no income taxes at all.
The inspector general’s report said the IRS does not have the authority to stop issuing “tax refund” checks to illegal workers who claim the tax credits. The IRS said it lacks the legal authority to ask tax filers to prove their eligibility to work in the United States. All it can do is process the return and send out the check.
“The payment of federal funds through this tax benefit appears to provide an additional incentive for aliens to enter, reside and work in the United States without authorization, which contradicts federal law and policy to remove such incentives,” the inspector general’s report said.
That’s a polite way of saying that President Obama, who swore in his oath of office to faithfully execute the laws of the United States, isn’t doing so.
Congress should hold hearings as soon as possible on the eligibility of undocumented workers for refundable tax credits. Anyone who wants to be re-elected should stand up and oppose this outrageous loophole.
The Treasury Department’s auditors found that 72 percent of ITIN tax returns claimed the child tax credit in 2010.
This story is a small window into a big problem. Refundable tax credits have turned the IRS into a secret social welfare program. Voters have no way of knowing how many people in America receive checks from the taxpayers to help them pay their living expenses. No journalist or citizen can file a Freedom of Information request asking to see other people’s tax returns.
The audit by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration tells us that 2.3 million ITIN filers received $4.2 billion in “tax refunds.” It doesn’t tell us how many people who file under Social Security numbers claimed the tax credits and received checks to “refund” money they didn’t pay in taxes.
If it’s $4.2 billion for the small percentage of illegal workers, how much is it for everybody else?
This may be the biggest welfare program in the history of civilization, and it’s all confidential, run entirely behind the walls of the IRS.
Five years ago, the Additional Child Tax Credit accounted for less than $1 billion in “refunds” to undocumented workers, but thanks to the Democrats’ prized stimulus bill in 2009, more people became eligible for greater refunds, and the figure quadrupled.
How much does it cost overall? How many people are receiving these checks? What is their income? Is it higher than the income of people who are paying more in taxes because they don’t have kids?
This must be one of the things President Obama didn’t want us to see when he said the debt ceiling had to be raised or else the Treasury Department would have to “prioritize” payments. Maybe there wouldn’t be enough money to pay military salaries and benefits, the administration warned.
They didn’t mention that they were sending out billions in “tax refund” checks to people with no Social Security number.
Here’s one way to fix this problem and make sure it never happens again.
The entire monstrous tax code ought to be repealed and replaced with a five percent flat tax on income above a level set by Congress. It should be done with a constitutional amendment, so that lawmakers don’t have the power to slip their little tax-credit changes into thousand-page “stimulus bills” that are rammed through Congress on slender majorities.
Oh, and happy Labor Day to America’s 14 million unemployed workers from the Obama administration. If you ever get a job, you’ll owe plenty in taxes to cover the debt your government has run up by sending $4.2 billion in federal tax dollars to illegal immigrants. That’s how ’shared sacrifice’ works.
Author and blogger Susan Shelley is running for Congress in California’s 30th District.