Anti-Immigrant Group Says Immigrants Should Pay Taxes but Not Receive Refunds

Domenic Powell • May 25, 2012

Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform (FAIR) rolled out new anti-immigrant messaging this week, focusing on tax credits given to undocumented taxpayers. In so doing, it might have declared defeat on one of its biggest talking points: that immigrants don’t pay taxes.

To anyone paying attention, it has been obvious for a long time that undocumented immigrants pay billions in taxes every year ($11.2 Billion in 2010) and that the amount they pay has been on the rise. Experts estimate that without undocumented taxpayers, Social Security will run out four years earlier than expected, thanks to taxes paid into the system that they will never get back.

Now, FAIR and its state-level surrogates are pushing the federal government to keep more of their fellow taxpayers’ money by attacking the right of ITIN filers (people who use IRS-issued Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, who are by and large undocumented) to claim tax credits.

If “illegal is illegal” after all, why isn’t FAIR pushing for the abolition of the ITIN altogether? Do they support keeping a separate and unequal tax system?

While they try to skirt by that fact by calling it a “tax loophole,” it’s anything but: experts suspect that hundreds of thousands of people file for returns even if they qualify for a refund, and many others pay back taxes in hopes of improving their chances for gaining immigration status in the future.

For a long time, the ITIN has thrown the hypocrisy of the US immigration system into stark contrast—the federal government taxes with one hand and deports with the other. North Carolina activists went so far as to call this the “tax and deport” policies of the federal government. Maybe it’s time for undocumented immigrants to have a Tea Party of their own.

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