Immigrants and the Child Tax Credit by the Numbers

Denying the Credit to Some American Children Doesn’t Make Sense

By Marshall Fitz , Sarah Jane Glynn of The Center for American Progress

Jonathan Martinez, 12, works on a school paper at the Hermandad Mexicana offices, a community outreach center for Hispanic immigrants in Lynwood, California. SOURCE: AP/Damian Dovarganes

As the February deadline for Congress to extend the payroll tax holiday through 2012 approaches, members of Congress continue to come up with inhumane and counterproductive ways to offset the loss of tax revenue. Rather than look to the wealthiest citizens who can afford to pay more (and in many cases are already paying a lower tax rate than those of us with significantly less income), some members are arguing that low-income American children of immigrant parents should be the ones to foot the bill.

The “Refundable Child Tax Credit Eligibility Verification Reform Act” would require taxpayers to provide their Social Security numbers in order to claim the refundable portion of the child tax credit. This means that parents filing their federal taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN, which enables immigrants who are not eligible for Social Security numbers to file and pay federal taxes, would no longer be eligible for the credit.

Extending the payroll tax cuts is vitally important as our economy continues to recover from the recession. But as the following numbers show, if our end goal is a stronger economy, offsetting the payroll tax holiday by denying the child tax credit to  immigrant parents of American children would be both cruel and ineffective.

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