President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration that temporarily allows up to 5 million illegal immigrants avoid deportation may have opened the door to giving them access to "amnesty bonuses."
According to The Weekly Standard
, a recent Homeland Security Committee hearing on immigration uncovered that illegal immigrants with deferred status may be eligible to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit and could be able to file an amended tax return for up to the last three tax years, possibly receiving as much as $24,000 in tax credits.
"The law makes a social security number a requirement of eligibility to receive the earned income credit," Eileen O'Connor, a tax lawyer and former head of the tax division of the Justice Department, said at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
"But in 1999, the Chief Counsel's office of the IRS ruled (in a non-binding, non-precedential way, but no one but the IRS pays attention to those disclaimers) that when a person receives a social security number, he can file amended returns to claim the credit for the three preceding years during which he did not.
"The logic is puzzling: the credit is not available if you don't have a social security number, but you can receive it retroactively for years during which you did not qualify for it because you didn't have a social security number."
Nebraska GOP Sen. Ben Sasse and Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson have written to the inspector general of the Treasury Department to get further confirmation about what benefits the law might afford to illegal immigrants, the Standard reported.
Sasse has said the possible loophole amounts to "amnesty bonuses."
"By offering illegal aliens new payments under the Earned Income Tax Credit, the IRS may encourage fraud from those claiming children living in other countries.
"The administration may have blown open the doors for fraud with amnesty bonuses of more than $24,000 to those who receive deferred action," Sasse said in the statement, according to the Standard.
"This is basic economics: if you want more of something, you subsidize it. By subsidizing illegal entry with four years' worth of new tax credits, the IRS would promote lawlessness. This program severely undermines the White House's lip-service to enforcing the law and would increase the burden on law-abiding taxpayers."
In his own statement, Johnson, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, reiterated Sasse's concerns.
"Non-U.S. citizens who qualify for President Obama's temporary deferred actions will now be eligible to receive permanent Social Security numbers. A Social Security number is the key that opens a whole treasure chest of benefits, including significant tax credits," Johnson said, according to the Standard.
"Most notably, qualifying applicants for the president's programs can now claim thousands — even tens of thousands — of dollars in payments from the Earned Income Tax Credit and, for some, the Additional Child Tax Credit. These two programs, which cost taxpayers $89.6 billion in 2013, were responsible for $21 billion in improper, potentially fraudulent payments that same year.
"Americans deserve to know where their taxpayer dollars are being spent and whether the Internal Revenue Service is failing to protect them from improper payments."
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