An Immigration Law Blog Thing



Anyone whose income meets the tax return filing threshold, regardless of immigration status, should file a tax return to show they have complied with tax laws. Filing taxes every year also helps to document physical presence in the United States, demonstrates good moral character, and is required in some immigration proceedings.

Regardless of income type—including any cash income—all of your income must be claimed on your tax return every year.

If you have already paid federal taxes and wants a tax refund then you must file a tax return.

If you would like to claim valuable tax credits:
Earned Income Tax Credit (tax filer, spouse, and any children claimed for the credit must have a valid SSN)
Child Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit (available to ITIN holders)

Will the information on my tax returns be sent to other Government Agencies like ICE?

Generally, no. The IRS is interested in collecting taxes—not immigration enforcement. There are laws in place that prohibit the IRS from sharing information collected on tax returns with individuals or other federal agencies, with very limited exceptions. (For example, the IRS can provide the Social Security Administration with information on residency status of an individual, to help that agency determine how much tax to withhold from Social Security benefits.)

How do immigrant workers file taxes without a valid Social Security Number?

Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) are nine digit numbers that are used by the IRS to process the taxes of individuals without Social Security Numbers. They do not confer immigration status or work authorization. Individuals eligible for an ITIN include:
• Lawfully present immigrants who cannot obtain a valid Social Security Number
• U.S. resident aliens/nonresident aliens and
• Unauthorized immigrants
• Dependents in Mexico and Canada

How do workers apply for an ITIN?

How long is an ITIN valid?

Can tax filers using ITINs still claim tax benefits?

Some tax benefits can be claimed with an ITIN, but some cannot. Tax filers can claim exemptions against the income that is counted for tax purposes for themselves, their spouses, and dependents, reducing or eliminating the taxes owed. In 2015, each exemption is worth $4,000. Some tax credits are available to filers using ITINs, but others require a Social Security

Who qualifies as a dependent for tax purposes?

A dependent is defined as a qualifying child or a qualifying relative (see chart below).
Dependents must be U.S. citizens, U.S. residents, U.S. nationals, or a resident of Canada or Mexico. For tax purposes, a U.S. resident is anyone who is a lawful permanent resident or meets the “substantial presence” test, defined as anyone physically present in the U.S. at least 31 days during the tax year AND a total of 183 days during the current year and preceding
two years.

Are immigrant tax filers eligible for tax credits?

Sometimes they are.

Federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): refundable tax credit worth up to $6,242.
• To qualify, the tax filer, spouse, and any qualifying children claimed for the EITC must have
a valid Social Security Number.
• Federal Child Tax Credit: refundable tax credit worth up to $1,000 per qualifying child.
For the Child Tax Credit, a qualifying child must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident (as defined
by tax laws), or U.S. national.6
• ITIN holders are eligible to claim the Child Tax Credit. If a qualifying child does not have a
Social Security Number, the credit can be claimed by using his or her ITIN.

Federal Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit: tax credit worth up to $2,100.
• ITIN holders are eligible to claim the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, and must also
provide the Social Security Number or ITIN of their care provider. If a qualifying child or
dependent does not have a Social Security Number, the credit can be claimed using his
or her ITIN.

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