With the tax season just around the corner, a majority of New Yorkers are preparing their documents carefully and crossing their fingers in the hopes of a high return; but there may be two groups of people in the state who did not know that they may be required to file tax returns this year: undocumented immigrants and permanent residents.
Although immigration law reform is still in its tentative stages, talks right now seem to suggest that at some point the federal government will be require all applicants for U.S. citizenship to prove presence in the United States. Some experts point out that filing tax returns could be a very effective way of doing just that.
Permanent residents in the U.S. could also see significant benefits from filing returns this year. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services already requires all citizenship applicants to show proof of tax filings; by filing this year, permanent residents can ensure easier processing of their application in the future.
Some immigrants in New York have raised concerns with how to file for tax returns if they don't have a Social Security number. According to the IRS, even if you are an undocumented immigrant and do not have a Social Security number, you may still file your taxes. You will receive an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) when you file taxes for the first time. This number will then allow you to file in following years until a Social Security number is obtained through citizenship.
Even though the future of immigration law is still unclear at this point, it appears that New York could be taking the first steps forward by asking undocumented immigrants and permanent residents to file taxes this year. It is the state's hope that by doing this now, it could help immigrants in the application process down the road.
Source: The New York Daily News, "Whether an undocumented immigrant or a permanent resident, you must file an income tax return," Allan Wernick, Feb. 8, 2013