IRS Tool Seen As Opportunity to Empower Undocumented Workers
Thursday, July 27, 2023
Summer is usually a busy time for the housing market, but advocates say housing is one of many parts of the economy undocumented workers are excluded from, despite paying taxes.
They hope an Internal Revenue Service tool gains more acceptance. The Individual Taxpayer Identification Number is issued by the IRS to ensure those without a Social Security Number, including undocumented individuals, pay taxes.
Organizations like like Minnesota's Communities Organizing Latino Power and Action (COPAL-MN) say it shatters the myth alleging immigrant workers do not contribute their share of income.
Ryan Perez, leadership and organizing director for COPAL, added the lack of a uniform approach to accepting the number for various services opens the door to exploitation.
"What we're dealing with is landlords who accept the ITIN, but if you're flagged as, 'Oh, that's an ITIN number, I'm gonna charge you a higher rent,'" Perez noted.
COPAL is preparing an awareness campaign in hopes of spurring more activity and fair use of the number by the private sector. On the policy side, Minnesota this year added certain tax credits and refunds afforded under the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, but Perez stressed they want it expanded to all benefits. In Congress, Republicans have opposed similar efforts, saying revenue from the benefits should only be directed to American citizens.
Perez emphasized broader acceptance means certain sectors of the state's economy can attract more clients, which leads to stronger businesses and vibrant communities.
"Expanding usage would allow folks to be renting and owning stable homes, being able to bank and contribute to financial institutions, and become fully accepted community members in their neighborhoods," Perez outlined.
He added they have seen some success with a housing organization in Mankato now including an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number section on its applications. According to the National Immigration Forum, around 4.5 million people each year file taxes using the number.
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