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Looking At Taxes Through The Lens Of An Undocumented Worker

For undocumented workers, many face the question of whether they should pay taxes to the U.S. government. To put it a better way, they are unsure if filing a tax return is in their best interest or even possible at all. Although it is easy for most U.S. citizens to say that you should, they are not in your position. Because you are an undocumented worker, you worry about how much time you have left in this country. If you have a family, you are most likely more concerned about their welfare and maximizing your ability to provide for them. 

Should you use the precious money you have to support your family and build a sufficient nest egg of savings as a form of protection? Or is it better to give your money to the country you hope will someday be yours to call home? A common question is whether they are putting themselves at risk for deportation if an undocumented worker makes their unauthorized work known through paying taxes.

Undocumented Workers Pay Taxes

So, should you pay federal income (and payroll or self-employment) taxes if you are an undocumented worker? Yes, you should, and we will explain why. You deserve to be a citizen of this country as much as anyone else, and we encourage you to believe in yourself as much as we do. Whether you have a Social Security number, obtained your income without permission, or have been compensated with cash, paying income taxes is in your best interest. 

Paying taxes is important to help avoid deportation by an Immigration Judge, become a legal permanent resident or a citizen in the future. No one wants to give away their hard-earned money; in many ways, your money is even harder earned. Contrary to public misconception, many undocumented people do pay taxes. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), “Undocumented immigrants contribute significantly to state and local taxes, collectively paying an estimated $11.74 billion a year.” 

Think of it as taking a step toward being able to live here permanently. When you begin the application process, proof that you have paid taxes every year speaks to your character and demonstrates your commitment to doing the right thing in the eyes of our government. It is one more piece of evidence to convince someone of the good moral character you possess—which is is often necessary to stop deportation and is a requirement for citizenship. We all utilize the public services that taxes pay for - roads, trash pick-up, US mail, school education systems for our kids, and so much more. 

How to Pay Taxes the Right Way

An ITIN is used to pay taxes to the IRS, even if you do not have work authorization and otherwise are not verified through the E-verify process. Anyone can get an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). This is something that your accountant can do for you. Though we understand any fear or reservations you may possess, it is important to remember that you shouldn’t use a fake Social Security number, nor do you need to use another person’s information.  

Our last piece of advice is to research a reputable tax preparer or accountant - one who is more concerned about following U.S. tax law than only focused on how much money they can save you in your tax return/refund. As a non-U.S. citizen, you have more at stake than a U.S. Citizen and need to prove your credibility within this country. Because you are trusting this person with a lot of responsibility, take the time to find an established and reputable professional. We recommend that you hire an accountant or Certified Public Account (CPA), rather than a “notario” or general “tax preparer” who offers a lot of other non-tax related services. Remember, you are laying the groundwork to live permanently in this country; don’t ever forget that you deserve the best chance possible!

STERN Law Supports You 

Immigration attorneys like us begin with the end in mind—and that end is your permanent legal residency and citizenship of the United States. Regardless of whether you are struggling to pay your taxes, have been arrested, or have been charged with a crime that can lead to deportation, we will advise you with the end in mind. Our goals extend beyond keeping you out of jail; we never lose sight of your long-term goals and interests. Contact STERN Law, LLC, to schedule your consultation with one of our compassionate and skilled attorneys

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The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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