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Update 3:08pm Eastern. Sen. Ensign is addressing the issue right now in the Senate Finance Committee. He says that the Congressional Research Service confirms that the tax rebates would go to illegal aliens as the House bill is currently written. Sen. Baucus says changes will be made to make certain the rebates don’t go to illegal aliens.
Just a reminder, to keep it in perspective: This illegal alien issue is just one small problem with stimulation-palooza. It’s the tip of the icebeg.
Meanwhile, another Fed interest rate cut.
And on a related note, I’ve reported before on the illegal alien home loan scam (see here and here). Now the press is ramping up illegal alien subprime victim sob stories. The presidential candidates in both parties should really be pressed for their views on this:
As an economic slowdown and the subprime mortgage crisis deepen across the United States, Hispanic immigrants are increasingly in danger of losing their jobs and their homes. Both legal and illegal immigrants joined Americans in buying homes they could barely afford when the market spiraled upward and many have been caught with mortgages higher than the value of their homes as prices have slumped in the past year. Just as subprime mortgage payments rose and house prices fell, the economy’s slowdown has hurt the construction sector, which employs large numbers of Hispanics and other immigrants. Unemployment among Hispanics in the United States jumped to 6.3 percent in December, up from 5.7 percent the previous month and well above the national average of 5 percent, U.S. Department of Labor statistics show. And almost half of the mortgage loans in the hands of Hispanics are subprime, making them especially vulnerable to the housing downturn.
Sen. John Ensign is currently working on a fix to bar illegal aliens from receiving tax rebates offered under the economic stimulus package speeding through Congress. The bill is being discussed in the Senate Finance Committee this afternoon and is slated for markup.
As I noted earlier today, the bill would apparently allow so-called “Resident Aliens” to receive rebate checks. The Treasury department classifies someone as a “Resident Alien” based on how much time that person has spent in the United States. No proof of legal presence is required. Some GOP aides believe illegal alien deportees who meet that definition could be eligible for rebates sent back to their home countries.
Another House aide sent out this e-mail this afternoon:
Folks – I wanted to make sure you all have the correct information. A number of press reports have suggested the economic growth bill passed by the House on Tuesday contains language would somehow enable illegal immigrants to receive a tax rebate. That is not accurate. The bill includes language similar to the provisions included in the 2001 and 2003 tax relief bills designed specifically to prevent illegal immigrants from receiving benefits. – steel
Here are the facts:
1. The bill includes language similar to the provisions included in the 2001 and 2003 tax relief bills designed specifically to prevent illegal immigrants from receiving benefits. There is no language in the measure that would enable illegal immigrants to receive a tax rebate.
2. Illegal immigrants who steal or fabricate a Social Security number are NOT ELIGIBLE to receive checks under the House bill.
3. An illegal immigrant who files taxes based on stolen or fraudulent information in order to attempt to receive a check under the House bill is committing tax fraud.
The aide also included this fact sheet:
Fact Sheet: Illegal Immigrants & Checks
* The procedures in this agreement are similar to what was done in the tax relief laws of 2001 and 2003.
* Illegal immigrants who steal or fabricate a Social Security number are NOT ELIGIBLE to receive checks under the House bill. As long as a tax return is accompanied by a valid Social Security number, the IRS has no capacity to know whether a given tax return was filed by a citizen, a legal immigrant, or an illegal immigrant. Illegal immigrants, of course, don’t have their own Social Security number, so if they file with the IRS, as the IRS believes very few do, they must take one of the following three routes, any one of which could lead to their being identified as committing fraud, and increasing the likelihood that they will be located and deported.
* They could use someone else’s stolen Social Security number. That is fraud, which the IRS attempts to identify both on a real-time basis and as part of its ongoing enforcement and program integrity efforts.
* They could fabricate a Social Security number. Tax returns accompanied by non-existent Social Security numbers should be rejected as invalid, although much of that enforcement currently occurs through on-going program integrity efforts (as opposed to identifying the error in real-time and flagging the return for further attention). Nevertheless, those who use such fabricated numbers face real risks of being identified as committing tax fraud and facing resulting penalties.
* They could obtain an ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number). ITINs, however, are not valid for work and illegal immigrants who enter the workforce generally do not attempt to use an ITIN either as proof of employability or for the purpose of filing a tax return, because an ITIN on a tax return is a clear indication it was filed by a non-citizen.
Two points in response:
1) There’s no harm in clarifying the language in a proactive, ironclad way to make certain it’s barred by law. Right?
2) We know enough about how understaffed and shortchanged “ongoing enforcement and program integrity efforts” are to know that fraud will happen, it will go undetected or unpunished, and these checks will get into illegal aliens’ hands. We also know that in the land of reality, ITINs are being used by illegal aliens for work, for banking purposes, to obtain driver’s licenses, to obtain home loans, and to file tax returns. Far beyond this tax rebate issue, the widespread ITIN scam needs to be addressed:
Question: How would McCain, Hillary, and Obama vote on an amendment to ban tax rebates for illegal aliens?
Who bets for “Not present?”