What Immigrants Need to Know About Paying Taxes

What Immigrants Need to Know About Paying Taxes


Did you know that immigrants need to pay taxes just like citizens? United States law requires even undocumented immigrants to file and pay taxes.

Since nobody wants trouble with the IRS, here is what you need to know. 

Which immigrants must pay taxes?

Any immigrant who has earned money while living in the United States must file taxes both in the US, and, frequently, in their home countries as well.

It’s an oddity of US Tax Code that even undocumented imigrants are required to pay taxes every year just like everyone else! Many do, too: billions each year. 

Don’t worry, filing taxes as an undocumented immigrant is safe. Confidentiality rules protect you: the IRS does not report your tax return to ICE. 

What do immigrants need to do to pay taxes? 

First you’ll need to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number by filing IRS Form W-7. Keep in mind that receiving an ITIN does not confer any immigration status nor give you work authorization where none existed before. You can’t use it to obtain social security benefits in retirement, or Medicare. You can use it to fulfill your tax obligations. 

Second, you’ll need to claim your immigrant status on your return. There’s a box you check that tells the government that you’re an immigrant. It’s very important for you to do this: if you fail to you could lose your green card! 

How does filing taxes help your immigration status?

One reason is it helps you demonstrate good moral character and that you’re an upstanding citizen if you ever want to apply for an immigration benefit of any kind. They also count as proof that you’ve lived here in the United States, which can be very helpful for immigration benefits that require you to demonstrate that you’ve been living in this country. 

For example, if you ever apply for naturalization you must prove you’ve resided continuously in the United States for five years before applying, or for three years if you are the qualified spouse of a US citizen. 

Failing to file can also be used against you in the event that the government seeks to deport you. It won’t exactly save you from being deported if you’ve given them other ammunition to use against you, but you don’t want to just hand them more evidence. 

Finally, you do get tax refunds if you overpay during the year, just like any other citizen does. These do not count as “federal public benefits.” 

Not sure how to file your taxes?

It’s okay to get help from a tax preparer or tax accountant. As long as you choose your help carefully it shouldn’t cause you any problems. Ask around your community to find one that you can trust. 

Need help from an immigration attorney?

Are you trying to become a permanent resident or citizen of the United States?

The road is anything but easy.

Get help by getting the best advice you can get from a qualified immigration attorney. Reach out to John Hykel Law today.

See also:

Can Immigrants Send Their Children to Public School

Is a Work Visa a Path to a Green Card?

Citizenship Through Naturalization


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