Congress Refuses to Budge on Illegal Tax Credits for Aliens

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

January 19, 2014

I’m filing this Washington Times story – “Illegals Still Get Medicare Benefits, Feds Vow Crackdown, $70M Savings” – in my “I’ll believe it when I see it” folder!

According to The Washington Times reporter Tom Howell, Jr., the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services calculates that if it established a citizenship or lawful resident eligibility requirement for Medicare’s prescription drug and/or Medicare Advantage plans, about $70 million in savings would accrue between 2015 and 2019. From 2009 through 2011, according to Health and Human Services director Daniel R. Levinson, Medicare paid out approximately $30 million in drug benefits to aliens.

As encouraging as the promised crackdown against fraudulent prescription drug access is, the longstanding trend for reducing the unlawful distribution of federal money to aliens isn’t encouraging. In 2011, an Indianapolis-based investigative reporter learned that the IRS had issued checks for billions of dollars in phony child tax credit reimbursements to illegal immigrants. In some cases, the children neither lived in nor ever visited the U.S. [“Tax Loophole Investigation,” by Bob Segall, WTHR.com, May 8, 2012/updated July 23, 2013]

A report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found: “The payment of federal funds through this tax benefit appears to provide an additional incentive for aliens to enter, reside, and work in the United States without authorization, which contradicts federal law and policy to remove such incentives.” More than two years since the report was issued, nothing has been done.

Disappointingly, but in 100 percent sync with Congress’ current mindset, legislators have more enthusiasm for legalizing 12-20 million illegal immigrants, giving them immediate work authorization and tripling legal immigration within a decade than saving taxpayer money by closing the IRS loophole that aliens have exploited.

Last June, the Senate passed S.744, an amnesty bill. A similar bill, H.R. 15, has 193 co-sponsors. But in December when Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions introduced an amendment that proposed restoring military veterans’ benefits that had been cut by eliminating child tax credit misuse, his motion was rejected, 46-54.

The Senate is so determined to promote illegal immigration that not even the most obvious taxpayer rip-offs can’t be killed off.

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