One of the themes of this blog is the dynamic role that immigrant workers play in driving the American economy. Undocumented people include many, many workers – and many of those workers pay taxes.
In Minnesota and across the country, many undocumented workers therefore complied with the income tax filing deadline of April 15. It isn’t necessary to be a U.S. citizen, or even have a green card, in order to do so.
How do you get the structure in place to pay taxes, though, if you don’t have a green card or a Social Security number? Undocumented workers can take the first step by applying for a tax identification number.
Formally, this number is called an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). After obtaining this number, an undocumented worker can not only pay taxes. The worker can also arrange with his or her employer to withhold Social Security and Medicare taxes, just as if the worker had legalized immigration status.
To be sure, it is understandable that an undocumented worker could be initially reluctant to take this step. After all, to do is to identify oneself in as large federal database as lacking legal status.
But obtaining a taxpayer identification number from the IRS doesn’t mean the IRS will share that information with the Department of Homeland Security, even if the Homeland Security Department does now include U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The IRS is not in cahoots with ICE. In fact, the IRS’s mission is quite different than ICE’s. The IRS is supposed to find tax revenue wherever it can. And in a country in which so many undocumented immigrants are working, a good source of that revenue is those immigrants.
Source: “Should You Be Paying Taxes on Your Baby Sitter?” The New York Times, Jacoba Urist, 4-14-13
Please visit our page on work authorization.