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Closing the $4.2 billion illegal immigrant loophole


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While the Internal Revenue Service wasted time and taxpayer resources trying to silence conservative groups, it knowingly sent $4.2 billion in taxpayer-funded checks to illegal immigrants each year.

You read that right. Despite repeated warnings and reports from its own Inspector General, the IRS did nothing to stop the checks and failed to apply the same standards as required for similar deductions.

The Additional Child Tax Credit was created to help working American families offset the costs of raising children.

Similar tax credits require filers to provide a Social Security number which can only be obtained by American citizens and legal workers. In this case, however, the IRS does not require proof that those applying for the credit are actually eligible for it in the first place.

While illegal immigrants do not have access to legitimate Social Security numbers, the IRS does allow anyone to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Using ITINs, many are able to apply for the credits and receive checks even though they are in the country illegally.

According to the Treasury Department's Inspector General, illegal immigrants exploited this loophole to the tune of $4.2 billion in 2010 alone.

A reporter in Indianapolis uncovered a case in which some were claiming the credit for relatives who did not even live in the United States. One person interviewed admitted to claiming 20 children and collecting returns totaling $29,608. In reality only one child was observed living at the residence while 19 others lived in Mexico and had never even visited the United States.

One case such as this is completely unacceptable but that it could be happening all across this country even after the IRS was warned is outrageous.

Not only does it add to the national debt but it creates another incentive for illegal immigration. Come to America illegally and we will subsidize your life. As American families struggle to make ends meet, this kind of waste must come to a stop.

This week, I introduced legislation to close this loophole and shut off the spigot. My bill, the Child Tax Credit Integrity Preservation Act, would require a valid Social Security number for both the parent claiming the credit and the dependent child. As such, only American citizens and legal workers could qualify for the credit.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, my bill would save taxpayers $7.6 billion over ten years simply by forcing the IRS to do what it should have been doing all along.

One of the fundamental duties of Congress is to be a watchdog of federal spending and ensure our government is a good steward of taxpayer resources. To that end, I will keep fighting to close this loophole and root out similar waste wherever it occurs.

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