Should I File Taxes If I’m Undocumented and Don’t Have an SSN?

Mario A. Godoy
Should I File Taxes If I’m Undocumented and Don’t Have an SSN?

It’s tax season in the United States, and a common question is if someone is undocumented and doesn’t have a social security number, should they file taxes? The short answer is yes, undocumented immigrants are required to file tax returns and pay taxes on any income earned in the U.S.

How To File Taxes If You Don’t Have A Social Security Number

If you are undocumented and do not have an SSN, you should apply for an ITIN by filing IRS Form W-7. An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number that is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to ensure that people – including undocumented immigrants -pay taxes even if they do not have a Social Security number (SSN), regardless of their immigration status.
Why Undocumented Immigrants Should Pay Taxes 
When your immigration attorney helps you apply for legal status, they can make a stronger case for approval when they can prove that you have good moral character and are abiding by U.S. laws, including paying your federal and state taxes. Not paying your taxes is considered an “unlawful act” by USCIS that adversely reflects on moral character for naturalization purposes. Plus, the IRS has penalties for people who do not pay their taxes, including a 5% penalty applied each month for up to five months when taxes are filed late and a penalty of 0.25% – 1% per month until the taxes are paid in full.
Undocumented immigrants who work in the United States and file taxes using an ITIN can use that information for immigration purposes:
• demonstrating that you have paid taxes can be used by your immigration attorney in a removal or deportation case
• applicants who have paid taxes are able to demonstrate “good moral character” to immigration officials
• paying taxes shows that you earn an income and would not become a “public charge”
• an ITIN and payment of taxes can provide proof of physical presence in the U.S.
• an ITIN allows you to open a bank account
• an ITIN can be used as identification by undocumented individuals in Illinois to apply for a Temporary Visitor Driver’s License (TVDL)
• undocumented workers and ITIN workers can claim the Child Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit for their children under age 17 if the children are documented and have valid SSNs
The New American Economy, a bipartisan immigration policy research and advocacy organization, found that undocumented immigrants pay over $30 billion in federal, state, and local taxes.

Are You Undocumented and Want to Pay Taxes?

An experienced immigration attorney can help you apply for an ITIN so you can file your federal and Illinois state taxes. If you are undocumented and need help with your immigration case, the attorneys at Chicago’s Godoy Law Office fight for the rights of immigrants in Illinois and help immigrants navigate the complex and numerous immigration policies, procedures, and regulations. Contact our office at 630-912-0322.

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