A Harder Squeeze on the PoorChildren of Immigrants Tax Policy
House Republicans have hit upon a noxious scheme to help pay for an extension of the payroll tax cut: a tax increase on millions of poor working families. A bill passed by the House and now in conference seeks to deny cash refunds under the child tax credit to those who file tax returns using “individual taxpayer identification numbers” issued by the Internal Revenue Service. Only those using Social Security numbers would be eligible.
The refundable portion of the child tax credit is a life-saver for the working poor. Families that would be cut off by this policy change make an average of $21,000 per year, according to the Treasury Department. They would lose an average of $1,800. About 80 percent of those families are Hispanic. The taxpayer identification numbers are used frequently, though not exclusively, by unauthorized immigrants to pay the taxes because they are not eligible for Social Security numbers. The I.R.S. accepts their tax payments and allows families to claim the child tax credit regardless of immigration status. This policy is an effective antipoverty tool that protects children, most of whom are American-born citizens. …