PAYING TAXES MAY HELP UNDOCUMENTED GET LEGAL STATUS

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

CERRITOS, Calif. – For most of the year, a personal chef who goes by the name Violet, lives in the shadows.

She’s been living in the U.S. for eight years, despite having her petition denied.

Even though she has no legal status, she comes out once a year to file her taxes.

“We have to pay our taxes to the government,” said Violet.

With lawmakers considering a pathway to legalization for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., immigration lawyers believe that filing taxes may be one of justification for obtaining legal status.

Attorney Joyce Noche of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) advises undocumented workers to file taxes as proof of residency and good moral standing.

“Tax returns are usually good evidence to show that someone’s been living here in the United States, and if anything, if legalization or amnesty is passed, people will need to provide documentation of their presence in the United States, possibly going back to 10 years, so tax returns could prove that,” said Noche.

Undocumented workers can file taxes by using a Tax ID number or TIN. To get a Tax ID Number, a tax payer needs to fill out an application on the Internal revenue service’s website at irs.gov, or can get one through an accountant.

Accountant Manny Legaspi explains that the TIN is typically used by foreign investors, as well as guest workers, and employers. He says the IRS will not reveal a taxpayer’s legal status to immigration officials and the use of a TIN number does not affect the amount of taxes someone would pay or refunds they would receive.

“The IRS doesn’t really care if you are a resident alien or undocumented alien as long as you file your taxes. You’re good,” said
Legaspi.

Violet says she’s filed her tax returns for the past eight years since she arrived in the U.S. She remains optimistic that her tax records could help prove her stay in the U.S., but she’s also hopeful that some of her tax refunds can pay for a plane ticket for a vacation back to the Philippines, if her stay gets legalized.

The deadline to file taxes or request an extension this year is April 15 (Monday).

Steve_angeles@abs-cbn.com

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