Thursday, May 17, 2012


Q: Does the IRS pay billions in tax refunds to workers who are in the U.S. illegally?

A: Yes. The Treasury Department’s Inspector General determined that $4.2 billion was paid in 2010, up from less than $1 billion in 2005. Leading Democrats are resisting a bill that would stop future payments.

This is a rare case of an Internet rumor with some substance to it. In fact, it’s shaping up as a major dogfight in Congress. At issue here are the federal child tax credits that can be claimed by persons with dependent children under age 17. Some Democrats are already defending these child tax credit payments that have gone to those without a valid Social Security number, accusing Republicans who want to end them of a heartless attack on children.

Several different versions of this viral email all cite a recent investigative story by an Indianapolis television station, but WTHR-TV is far from the first to notice. The Washington Post and others reported on this last year when the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration issued a report on July 7, 2011. The title of the report summed up the IG’s finding: Individuals Who Are Not Authorized to Work in the United States Were Paid $4.2 Billion in Refundable Credits.

The credits currently amount to $1,000 per child, and they are “refundable,” meaning that parents may receive refunds even when they do not owe any tax.
The IG report stated that more than 2.3 million persons who did not have Social Security numbers valid for working in the U.S. got an average of roughly $1,800 each in 2010 in child tax credit refunds. That included 9,000 illegal immigrants who each got a total of $10,000 or more by retroactively claiming credits for tax years prior to 2010.

This from