Despite efforts starting in 1996 by the Federal Government to make it easier for illegal workers to file and pay income taxes, only a small percentage of the estimated 12 to 30 million illegal workers file income tax returns, and the majority that do are not paying taxes but receiving refunds, according to tax return information provided by the Internal Revenue Service.
The information provided to JJ Chronicles following a Freedom of Information Act Request spanned tax years 1996 to 2003. Because the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number system is not as rigorous as Social Security Number identification, deciphering the numbers can be difficult. For example, one ITIN can be used by more than one member of the family, so the wage earner, his or her spouse, and all of their children can use the same number, according to the IRS. This makes it difficult for even the IRS to determine the actual number of ITIN tax returns accurately.
For this reason, the IRS provides the year the number was assigned in addition to the years it was used. For example, a number assigned in 2003 can be used for the tax year 1996 if the illegal worker is attempting to file back taxes or, as the numbers indicate, receive a back refund.
Based on the information provided, it appears only about 18 million returns were filed by illegal workers using the ITIN system. The majority of the returns, 11 million, were filed with the status of Married Filing Jointly. The illegal workers also claimed significant, nearly 15 million, tax credits for children in those tax years.
Nearly 75 percent of those filing were owed a refund, and the majority, 53 percent, received refunds ranging from $500 to $4,999. About 2.5 percent received refunds ranging from $5,000 to $9,999. While illegal workers are not entitled to earned income tax credits, illegal workers can file a tax return with a low income, which cannot be verified, claim multiple dependents and receive a refund. Under the Senate Amnesty Bill, illegal workers would become eligible for the earned income tax credit, increasing the refund amounts these workers would receive.
The majority of these workers had adjusted gross incomes of less than $24,999, but the data also indicates that many of these workers have higher incomes than many U.S. citizens. This puts into dispute the claim by Amnesty proponents – President Bush, Republican and Democrat Senators, and the Republican National Committee – that these workers are in jobs left vacant by Americans unwilling to do the same work. Of the few illegal workers who reported, 26 percent had incomes of $25,000 to $49,999. Another 8 percent reported incomes of $50,000 to $99,000 and 3.5 percent reported incomes of $100,000 plus. Based on other IRS tables, this would put 38 percent of these illegal workers in the top 50 percent of U.S. income earners.
In the eight tax years from 1996 to 2003, only about 5.5 million tax returns were filed by illegal workers. While the total tax liability for those that filed before credits was $48 billion for the same period, $23 billion was returned in tax refunds, and $4.4 billion was never paid and is still owed. In comparison, for those same tax years, U.S. citizens filed nearly 1.3 billion returns, and the top 50 percent of wage earners, anyone making over $20,000 annually paid 96 percent of the 8 trillion dollars in tax revenue. The illegal workers that reported incomes of more than $70,000 a year would be in the top five percent of wage earners.
Senators claimed illegal workers would have to pay back taxes. Still, the Senate Bill on pages 453 to 457 limits an illegal workers liability to just three years of qualifying employment no matter how long they have been in the country. An illegal worker who has been here since 1986 need only show income for three years to be put on track for citizenship. How many illegal workers are going to provide proof of income for more than the needed three years?
No U.S. citizen can dream of having any income tax free, but that is exactly the gift the U.S. Senate plans to give illegal workers.
In fact, there is a division in the U.S. Justice Department with one goal – prosecute U.S. citizens who cheat on their taxes. The Tax Division aggressively pursues tax cheats and seeks harsh penalties for repeat offenders. For example, the Tax Division prosecuted tax protester Irwin Schiff of Las Vegas and sent him to prison for 12 years. Tax protestors are not the only ones going to jail. A simple web search reveals how common tax evasion cases are prosecuted, and not all tax evaders are well-known resistors.
Based on the government’s action, the goal is to send citizen tax evaders to jail while giving illegal residents citizenship and tax-free work years. Looking at the two levels of enforcement, illegal workers don’t know how good they have it.
President’s Environmental Advisors Claim To Have No Record of Looking At Immigration Impacts
The President’s Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) says it has no record of examining the potential environmental impacts of the Senate Amnesty Bill in response to a Freedom of Information Act Request.
The CEQ says it never reviewed the proposal and has no record of reviewing the Department of Homeland Security’s “Catch and Release” Program.
Based on the agency’s description of itself, this is a clear failure of its duties. Below is how the agency describes itself. The Council’s website states:
Congress established CEQ within the President’s Executive Office as part of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). Additional responsibilities were provided by the Environmental Quality Improvement Act of 1970.
“In enacting NEPA, Congress recognized that nearly all federal activities affected the environment in some way and mandated that before federal agencies make decisions, they must consider the effects of their actions on the quality of the human environment. NEPA assigns CEQ the task of ensuring that federal agencies meet their obligations under the Act. The challenge of harmonizing our economic, environmental, and social aspirations has put NEPA at the forefront of our nation’s efforts to protect the environment.”
And where is the Sierra Club on the government’s obvious failure to study the environmental impacts – not interested.
Senator Dianne Feinstein Calls For Welfare Benefits For Legal Migrants
In a letter to a constituent, Senator Feinstein said she supports the restoration of certain welfare benefits to legal immigrants. Since the Senate bill would legalize millions of immigrants, Feinstein supports immediately giving them welfare benefits. Feinstein claims her support for illegal immigrants is based on the fact they “pay taxes.” Tax records, however, show the majority are not paying taxes.