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Earvin Gonzalez assists an undocumented taxpayer in suburban Washington, D.C. Alexia Fernández Campbell/buzzpatterson.com
ROCKVILLE, Maryland — A 36-year-old woman was working on her taxes through a taxation preparer Friday morning when a green crate popped increase on the computer screen: “Taxpayer’s Social protection number is not valid.”

This wasn’t a surprise. The woman was an undocumented housekeeper indigenous El Salvador who had actually come to record her taxation returns in ~ Casa de Maryland, i m sorry hosts 2 federally subsidized tax centers that aid low-income workers file their taxes because that free.

So far this year, the group has aided 198 innocuous immigrants file their taxes. While the woman and her tax preparer, Earvin Gonzalez, worked, about a dozen immigrants clutched folders full of receipts and also tax paperwork and waited patiently in line for their turn.

You are watching: How do illegal immigrants pay taxes without a social security number

Unauthorized workers aren’t eligible for benefits favor the earned income tax credit transaction — which is what the environment-friendly box top top the display was warning Gonzalez about. Nor can they acquire Social defense or Medicare. Yet the IRS still wants unauthorized immigrant to record their taxes, and many of them do. The ideal estimates native the academy on Taxation and Economic Policy, a Washington, DC, think tank, indicate about fifty percent of undocumented workers in the United claims pay income taxes.

Filing taxes helps immigrants create a file trail to show when they entered the country and how lengthy they’ve to be contributing tax dollars. Numerous are hope it will aid them gain legal condition one day. That has actually happened in previous reform efforts, and also one of the an initial requirements is commonly to prove the a person has been paying taxes. The was the instance for the undocumented youth granted temporary occupational permits under chairman Obama’s deportation-relief program, known as DACA. V the brand-new administration’s fixation on a border wall, however, their chance of getting records is an ext remote than ever.

How unauthorized immigrants pay their taxes

Maria, whose surname is gift withheld because of her immigrant status, handed a folder v tax files from two tasks to Gonzalez. She W-2 proved that a housecleaning company paid her $17,288 critical year.

The Social protection number top top the W-2 form is make up, Maria speak me, since she doesn’t have one. Her employer never asked because that identification to verify it, she says. Instead, she has an separation, personal, instance Taxpayer to know Number (ITIN), developed by the IRS in 1996 so human being who aren’t allowed to job-related in the united States could still file taxes on any type of money lock earned. (The IRS does not share ITIN details with immigrant authorities.)

The firm doesn’t break down the variety of tax returns filed this way, however in 2010, it report that around 3 million ITIN holders paid an ext than $870 million in revenue taxes. There room currently about 12 million unauthorized immigrant living in the united States, consisting of children and the elderly.

Maria claimed she used for an ITIN number soon after arriving illegally in the United says from El Salvador in 2009. Civilization told her that having a record of paying taxes would assist her change her status if immigration reform happened and also she was offered a course to citizenship.

Comprehensive immigration reform failed in Congress, however Maria is tho paying she taxes every year. “I think the important, and also all my loved ones pay their taxes too,” she said.

This year, her documents contained two 1099 forms, for occupational Maria did together a contractor.

“What kind of jobs were these?” Gonzalez asks she in Spanish.

“After cleaning houses, I would certainly go place concrete in parking lots,” she says.

Those 2 jobs brought in a total of $24,845 last year, and also Maria still needed to salary taxes on the income. Gonzalez entered some deductions, such together the $1,500 she invested on devices to pour and level concrete and also the 12,000 mile she drove in between job sites. Maria, who is a single mom, asserted two dependents: she 16-year-old son and also 13-year-old daughter. V her ITIN number, she to be able to case child tax credits, however not the earned earnings tax credit, the major federal taxes credit because that low-income working families.

In the end, Maria owed $1,131 in earnings taxes come the state of Maryland and also $775 to the commonwealth government. She said she had actually some money saved up, because she knew she would have actually a taxes bill in ~ the end of the year native the contracting jobs. However she claimed she will certainly probably gain on a payment setup with the IRS. If Maria had qualified because that the earned earnings tax credit, her tax bill would probably have been around $500 lower.

How innocuous immigrants finish up helping society Security

It’s true that no all undocumented immigrant pay federal earnings taxes, since the federal government has no method to store track of their under-the-table earnings. The IRS can withhold taxes indigenous those hired through fake Social protection numbers, yet workers who obtain paid in cash could simply select not to report it, uneven they voluntarily file a return through an ITIN number.

Still, every undocumented workers money public schools and also local federal government services by payment sales and also property taxes favor everyone else. In 2010, that included up to around $10.6 exchange rate in state and also local taxes, follow to an evaluation by the institute on Taxation and also Economic Policy.

And workers who gain a paycheck, favor Maria, still have payroll taxes because that Medicare and also Social protection withheld from your paycheck, also if they put a fake Social security number under on their W-2 form. The IRS estimates that unauthorized employees pay about $9 billion in payroll counting annually.

In Maria’s case, the W-2 form showed the she paid $1,072 into Social Security and $251 right into Medicare, 2 social safety net programs she will never advantage from.

A part of the taxation goes come the retirement trust money at the Social protection Administration. In 2013, the firm reviewed how much money undocumented workers added the retirement to trust fund. The number to be astonishing: $13 exchange rate in one year.

The cook actuary that the Social security Administration, Stephen Goss, approximates that about 1.8 million immigrants were working through fake or stolen Social protection cards in 2010, and he expects that number to with 3.4 million through 2040.

So plenty of unauthorized immigrant were paying into the trust money while acquiring nothing in return the it end up generating a many revenue for the government. “We estimate that revenue by innocuous immigrants result in a network positive impact on Social protection financial status generally,” gun concluded in the 2013 review.

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These numbers space a stark contrast to the regularly repeated rhetoric that undocumented immigrants room a drain on the US. Economy. Even most american seem to think therefore — in a 2014 Reuters poll, 63 percent of people surveyed stated they believe undocumented immigrant burdened the economy. Throughout Trump’s an initial address to Congress, he said immigration price US taxpayers billions of dollars a year.

Emiliano, a 57-year-old undocumented job laborer indigenous Honduras, claims he to know many civilization assume he no pay his taxes. He doesn’t care. He just really hopes one day it will assist him acquire legal status.

When ns told that the chances don’t look great under the trump administration, the shrugged.