POLITICS

Veteran U.S. senator to IRS: No tax breaks for undocumented immigrants

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa  (AP)

A veteran U.S. senator from Iowa says he plans to push legislation that would overturn a policy allowing undocumented immigrants who qualify for a three-year deportation waiver under President Barack Obama’s executive order to earn tax refunds.

Sen. Charles Grassley, a Republican, says it’s wrong for people who have broken the law to be entitled to something such as refunds, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Grassley had written to Internal Revenue Services Commissioner John Koskinen seeking information about whether undocumented immigrants who qualify for Obama’s executive action would be able to claim what is known as Earned Income Tax Credit, which provides cash payments to people who are low-income earners.

Koskinen confirmed that undocumented immigrants who qualify for the president's deportation deferral may qualify for the tax break once they get Social Security numbers. They could also amend tax returns to claim refunds retroactively for the prior three years.

Grassley says he won’t have it.

“These individuals will be eligible to claim billions of dollars in tax benefits based on earnings from unauthorized work in the United States,” Grassley said, according to the Journal. “The tax code shouldn’t reward those who broke our immigration laws.”

Under Obama’s executive action, deportation is waived for up to three years for
undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States before the age of 16, as well as for those who have children who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.

Those who are eligible may obtain work permits and driver’s licenses. They could also qualify for many government benefits and receive a Social Security number.

Undocumented immigrants long have been able to get refunds from the IRS using an alternative to the Social Security number – the Individual Taxpayer Identification number, or ITIN. They are required to file tax returns, regardless of their immigration status.

Many others get taxes withdrawn from their paychecks under Social Security numbers that are not theirs, and consequently do not receive refunds or Social Security benefits.

The Earned Tax Income Credit is paid to workers who don’t earn enough to pay taxes, the Journal said.

Undocumented immigrants also for years have been able to get child tax credit refunds, something else that several Republican lawmakers want to change.

In answer to Grassley’s letter regarding the tax breaks, Koskinen responded that the IRS is simply following guidelines that are more than a decade old.

“A taxpayer may claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for a taxable year using a social security number (SSN) acquired in a later taxable year,” according to Koskinen.

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