By Peter A. Schulkin
Download a pdf of this Backgrounder
Peter A. Schulkin received his PhD in economics from Harvard and is former Director of Research for the National Association of Real Estate Investor Trusts and former Senior Vice President of a real estate arm of Wells Fargo & Co. He has taught at several universities, including UCLA.
Summary: The Treasury Department reports that illegal immigrants filing tax returns using the Individual Tax Identification Number are receiving more than $1.5 billion each year from the federal government through the Child Tax Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit.
Many illegal immigrants are regularly accessing welfare benefits in the United States in different ways.1 They may do so through those state and local governments that do not verify citizenship or that accept false proof of citizenship. In many cases, they access welfare benefits through their citizen children born in the United States. Additionally, and this is the focus of this report, there are ways illegal immigrants can obtain a form of federal welfare that is available to income tax filers. Since a significant percentage of illegal immigrants have low incomes, work “off the books,” or work with false names and Social Security numbers, it is likely that many report little or no income when applying for federal, state, or local benefits.