Should Undocumented Immigrants File Income Tax Returns?

Whether or not you are legally residing in the United States, if you are earning an income you should file income taxes. If you are an undocumented immigrant and fail to do so, you not only face possible deportation but possible criminal charges for not filing your taxes.

Filing taxes can also help with an immigration case, because by doing so you’re showing you’re a person with good moral character. This is important when applying to become a U.S. citizen and for other types of immigration cases.

Sometimes undocumented immigrants use false information to obtain work. As far as taxes are concerned, though, there is no difference between legal or illegal income. Both are taxable and must be reported. You won’t be arrested or turned in to Immigration because you paid taxes on illegal income.

To file taxes, citizens and lawful residents use their Social Security Number (SSN). Many undocumented immigrants cannot lawfully get an SSN, but they can still file an income tax return by applying for and using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

  • This tax processing number is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for those who are unable to get an SSN but need to file income tax returns.
  • ITIN’s are used only for federal and state tax reporting.
  • Obtaining such a number doesn’t affect your immigration status.

To obtain an ITIN, you need to fill out a Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (you can also find instructions here).

  • You need to include documents proving your identity and your foreign status.
  • You should apply for the ITIN as soon as you have completed your federal income tax return. If it’s approved by the IRS you should receive it within six weeks of your application. If you have not you should call the IRS to ask about the status of your request.
  • You can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to get help with an ITIN and filing your income tax return. You can also get tax help in person at one of the IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers located throughout Kentucky.
  • You can also meet with an ITIN Acceptance Agent, which is a person or business approved by the IRS to provide help with ITIN applications.
  • The IRS does not report those who apply for an ITIN and who are not in the U.S. legally. The IRS wants to encourage all people to pay their taxes, and there will be no punishment for applying for an ITIN.

There are limits to the benefits of getting an ITIN. You would not be eligible for the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit without a valid SSN. To be eligible for the Child Tax Credit, your child must be a U.S. citizen, national or lawful resident.

If you live in the Lexington area and have questions about your immigration status or want to take steps to try to change it, you can discuss the situation with an attorney to learn more about the law and the immigration process. Talk with the dedicated Kentucky lawyers at CF Abogados today. Please give CF Abogados a call at (859) 971-0060 or fill out the online contact form to GET HELP NOW.

Attorney Kirby J. Fullerton

Mr. Fullerton’s practice is focused on immigration law. He speaks Spanish, and represents clients in cases before the immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals. He began his career practicing criminal defense, and understands how matters in criminal courts can affect a client’s immigration status. [Attorney Bio]