The tax reform packaged unveiled by Republicans on Thursday would eliminate the ability of illegal immigrants to claim several significant tax credits. The measure would thus save the federal government about $23.1 billion over the next decade, according to the authors of the bill. Republicans have long noted that despite the prohibition of benefits to illegal immigrants, the Internal Revenue Service has nevertheless allowed them to collect the child tax credit, i.e. the American Opportunity Tax Credit, and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Measures have been introduced in the House in years past but have never cleared a path in Congress. 

The new tax bill would require taxpayers to submit work-eligible Social Security numbers in order to claim the credits. However, immigration advocates have roundly condemned cutting off the tax credits. Immigrant-rights claim that while parents filing taxes may be in the United States illegally, their American-citizen children deserve to benefit from child tax credits.

As things stand now, many illegal immigrants pay their taxes by using Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, which are issued by the IRS to those not authorized to work in the country. While the IRS does receive tax payments through the Individual Taxpayer ID numbers, it also makes payments of billions of dollars annually to illegal immigrants using the numbers, according to the IRS inspector general. While inspector general has repeatedly called on the agency to cease the practice, the IRS has refused because it interprets the law related to those tax credits to cover illegal immigrants as well as others.



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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