Monday, April 16, 2007

IRS lets illegals pay taxes while keeping clear of ICE

Tuesday is Tax Day, and millions of illegal immigrants will collaborate with one federal agency - the Internal Revenue Service - while trying to avoid another - Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE seems to be the only government agency which sometimes cares whether they are in the U.S. legally or not.

The illegals want to generate a record of on-time tax payments, which might eventually help their citizenship applications, or at least avoid their deportation by ICE. Most Americans say it’s absurd for the government to work with people it should be tracking down and deporting. The process legitimizes the presence of illegals, and sends a mixed message about this nation’s interest in enforcing its own rules.

The IRS created the nine-digit Individual Tax Identification Number in 1996 for foreigners who don’t have Social Security numbers but need to file taxes in the U.S. It is increasingly used by undocumented workers to file taxes, apply for credit, get bank accounts or even get a mortgage to buy a home.

The IRS issued 1.5 million ITINs in 2006 — a 30 percent increase from the previous year. It’s widely believed that most people using ITINS are in the United States illegally. Five states — West Virginia, Kentucky, New Mexico, Utah, and Illinois — also allow ITINs to be used as identification for a drivers’ license.

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